Manager's Guide - 1 to 1 Meetings

Manager's Guide - 1 to 1 Meetings
  1. A theory to get you started
  2. Benefits of 1 on 1 meetings
  3. One-on-one Structure
  4. Sample agenda
  5. Good Implementation Practices 1: 1
  6. Summary

Have you heard about 1: 1 meetings? Or maybe you have been running them in your team? Let us tell you a little bit more about what 1: 1, the benefits they bring, and how to conduct them to get the most out of them.

A theory to get you started

1: 1 meetings, or one-on-one meetings, are regular meetings between the manager and the employee, focusing on talking about the work, successes, challenges and development expectations. They can be held once a week, once a month or once a quarter - it all depends on the needs of the individual team and, as it often happens, time.

One important thing to keep in mind - 1: 1 should not be in the form of reporting and not intended to evaluate the employee. If you use this opportunity to report a status from a project or to provide your (often negative or - as it sounds better - constructive) feedback, the employee will be discouraged from meetings and you will not receive the desired benefits. Remember that 1: 1 meetings are mostly “about the employee” meetings. Let them speak and give your feedback better on a regular basis.

Benefits of 1 on 1 meetings

You would certainly like to find out what such meetings mean, since they are not used for reporting and evaluation of work.

1. Building a relationship

Regular 1: 1 meetings provide an opportunity to build a deeper relationship between a manager and an employee. For you, it may be a time to get to know your team members better, their interests, and any short- and long-term challenges they face outside of work.

2. Information

You probably know from experience that some voices are louder in group meetings. Not everyone has the opportunity to express their opinion and more shy people may not be willing to speak on the forum.

1: 1 meetings provide an opportunity to listen to the views of each team member in an atmosphere of confidentiality. It is also a great way to find out about any issues that may arise in your team or check their morale first hand.

3. Development goals

Everyone would like to keep the best of us in the team. One of the most important factors for an employee to remain in the organization is to provide development opportunities. 1: 1 meetings provide an opportunity to discuss the employee's professional aspirations and discuss his possible career paths. You should reflect on this together:

- What skills (classes, certificates, experience) do the employee need?

- What tasks and projects may be valuable in supporting employee development?

- What are the most valuable talents and skills of an employee?

1: 1 meetings are a great place to explore these topics and work out the steps an employee needs to take to grow.

4. An opportunity to receive feedback

When was the last time you asked your team for feedback on your work? If you haven't had this opportunity, 1: 1 is the time to get some worthwhile feedback on yourself. Direct question "What do you think about my work?" maybe it's not the best idea (let's be honest - no one wants to attack the boss). Try to ask how you can support the employee, e.g. in talking about his challenges or development, or what actions you can take to make the team more effective.

One-on-one Structure

What to discuss in 1: 1 meetings, especially if they are cyclical? 1: 1 doesn't have to be boring or repetitive, but they can have some common elements. The topics to be discussed can vary and should always be tailored to your needs.

We will propose a few that we personally consider the most important:

- Key successes and challenges

- Upcoming projects

- Development goals and career plans

- The way in which you can support the employee in his work

- A chat about life, hobbies, family

Remember to take notes! Write down everything you consider important. Certainly, you will agree on more than once the next steps that you will want to take on a given topic. Without your notes, it will be hard to come back to them at the beginning of the next meeting. Remember to always review your notes before the meeting.

Sample agenda

- 5 minutes - Hello! - informal conversation about hobbies, family, vacation plans etc. The point is to have a general idea of the employee's mood and what is going on with him.

- 5 minutes - Update and summary - based on your notes, check if you managed to complete the actions planned for the previous 1: 1.

- 25 minutes - Successes and challenges - ask the employee about his recent successes and challenges and what impact they had on the team / company / its development. It is also a good opportunity to find out what he needs from you or the team.

- 5 minutes - Career development - check what actions the employee has recently taken to further develop.

- 10 minutes - Hot Topics - discuss what is going to happen in the near future, regardless of whether it concerns company or personnel matters.

- 10 minutes - Everything Else - discuss any other topics you would like to raise.

Good Implementation Practices 1: 1

You are familiar with the theory, benefits and structure of 1: 1 meetings. Let's move on to organizational matters. There are a few good practices to keep in mind in 1: 1 meetings.

1. Length of the meeting

It is said that a 1: 1 meeting should last an hour, but it's really up to you. It could be an hour, 30 minutes, or even less. Let it last as long as necessary to cover all the important topics.

2. The invitation

As a manager, it is on your side to organize the meeting and send an invitation to the employee. If possible, leave yourself 15 minutes off before the next meeting in case your interview becomes prolonged.

3. Appeal

Even if you get something up and you can't attend a scheduled meeting, don't cancel it. This is a very important rule. Consider shortening the meeting or holding it over the phone, and in the worst case, postpone it to another day. When you frequently cancel 1: 1, you send a message to the employee that he and his affairs are irrelevant to you.

4. Frequency

Frequency of meetings depends on individual needs. You can organize meetings once a week, twice a month or once a quarter. The key is to schedule them at regular intervals, preferably as a recurring event on your calendars.

5. Location

Not always 1: 1 has to take place in the company's conference room. If possible, take an employee for a coffee at a nearby cafe or even online through skype, google meets.

6. Mindfulness

Remember to silence your phone, close your laptop and focus on your conversation. If you're having an online conversation, you'd better close all browser windows and mute Slack. I'll repeat myself here - it's time for you.

7. Agenda

To make meetings more effective, prepare an agenda in advance. Treat it as a kind of checklist, making sure that all the most important points of the meeting are discussed. Of course, there are situations where we throw the agenda out of the window and have a long, casual conversation, but in most cases the agenda definitely helps.

8. Communication

If you speak more than you listen in a meeting, you are doing it wrong. Try to establish an environment where the employee speaks at least 70% of the time. Practice asking questions instead of telling people what you think.

9. Atmosphere

1: 1 meetings should definitely be informal. This is not the time for hierarchy and reporting. Additionally, create an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. I am convinced that it will benefit both sides.


With the above tips you should be ready to introduce 1: 1 matches with your team. If you have had such meetings before, we hope you have found something new for yourself. Feel free to introduce your modifications, remembering that they are primarily intended to serve you. Remember the good practices mentioned in the article and note-taking!

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