Walking 1 on 1 Meetings

When I managed a consulting team in the USA, I would periodically conduct walking 1 on 1 meetings with my staff. I found this format particularly helpful when coaching poor performance. Here are some of the benefits:

Strong eye contact is useful when sitting opposite a person in a meeting room where I wanted to make a point firmly. However, there were times when a gentle course correction was all that was required, and I found that walking side by side made it easier for both parties to speak.

The person typically opened up and shared their feelings more when we walked together, and moments of conversational silence flowed more naturally as each person gathered their thoughts before responding.

I’d still follow my standard weekly 1 on 1 meeting format, and say, “Hey, let’s get some exercise and go for a 30-minute walk for our 1 on 1 meeting today”.

Weather permitting, I would do this regularly, not just when it was time to give the person critical feedback on their behaviors or results. I didn’t want them to dread the walking meetings!

You won’t have data in front of you, so you will need to familiarize yourself with the current status of their projects and metrics before you set out.

I appreciate that not every work environment is suitable for conducting walking 1 on 1 meetings. You need a safe environment, with minimal distractions so you can both focus on the coaching conversation.

Another ad-hoc option I used was to conduct performance feedback conversations when going for a drive together in the car (eg after a client appointment). The same side-by-side, low-eye contact dynamic exists in a car where conversations can feel less threatening.

I’ve read that Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg used walking meetings.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Until next time…