How do you suggest I make the most of my 1:1 with my supervisor?

Industry Matters Newsletter
Patrick Gordon
Patrick Gordon, ACS Career Consultant

Go in with your past accomplishments, take notes, ask detailed questions about how your performance is evaluated, and remind your supervisor of the promissory notes when they hired you, i.e. what you would be bringing to the table.

Matt Greaney, Senior Research Chemist in the Catalysts Business Unit of Cariant
Matt Greaney, Senior Research Chemist in the Catalysts Business Unit of Cariant

It’s important to be open and up front with your supervisor(s).  Poor communication is often the root issue with the problems I’ve seen arise in both my professional experiences.  Regular updates with your supervisor can help prevent miscommunications.  You may have an annual or semi-annual “formal” 1:1 meeting to discuss progress and future goals.  It is worthwhile to spend some time preparing for these meetings by honestly assessing your past performance in terms of what recent work you’re proud of and what you feel you could have done better.  Walking into a 1:1 with the supervisor can be intimidating but coming in ready with some honest talking points about your job performance may help ease the anxiety.  Your honesty and openness should help convince your supervisor that your self-identified “areas for improvement” will likely be your “highlights” during the next 1:1. Nobody is perfect, and I wouldn’t want to work with someone who thought they were. 

Kara Allen, Director, Recruitment & University Relations, Aegis Sciences Corporation
Kara Allen, Director, Recruitment & University Relations, Aegis Sciences Corporation

A 1:1 meeting is a great way to get feedback and direction from your manager. Prepare ahead of time, and ensure you create a list of questions to go over with them. This is a great opportunity to get feedback on your work; where you are doing well, and where you may need additional improvement. Try to not get defensive when given constructive criticism. Feedback is a gift – if you welcome it, it will help you grow. Ask about other things you can do to develop yourself, inside and outside of work. Ask to be involved with additional cross-functional or cross-departmental projects if those are available. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and ask for more responsibility. If you are looking to “move to the next level” in your position, ask what steps you should take to get there. Always remember that your relationship with your supervisor is a partnership. If you are fortunate enough to have this 1:1 time with them, make it count!

Donald Truss, ACS Career Consultant
Donald Truss, ACS Career Consultant

Build a friendship. Ask about non work things and wait for him/her to talk about work. Anticipate what they will want to discuss and be ready to reply with short, clear, complete answers. Remember - you are both there because you are honest and want to feed your families.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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