Risks and benefits of 1-on-1 as a management tool: how and when to conduct them?

Risks and benefits of 1-on-1 as a management tool: how and when to conduct them?
  1. Structure 1: 1
  2. Acceptable Implementation Practices 1: 1
  3. Summary

Have you heard about 1: 1 meetings? Or maybe you have been running them in your team for a long time? If they are new to you, and you want to find out what they are, you know what they are about, but you don't know how to go about them, or you are just looking for ideas on how to improve such meetings, you've come to the right place. Let me tell you a little about what 1: 1 sessions are, the benefits they bring, and how to run them so that you get the most out of them.

Structure 1: 1

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 I personally consider the most important:

Critical successes and challenges;

Upcoming projects;

Development goals and career plans;

How you can support the employee in his work;

A chat about life, hobbies, family.

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

Acceptable 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 acceptable 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 important topics.

2. The invitation

As a manager, it is on your side to organize the meeting and send an employee an invitation. 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 fundamental 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

I have written before that the 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, bring an employee for a coffee at a nearby cafe.

6. Mindfulness

Remember to silence your phone, close your laptop and focus on your conversation. If you have an online conversation, you'd better close all browser windows and mute Slack. Let me repeat myself here - it is time for you.

7. Agenda

To make meetings more effective, prepare an agenda in advance. Treat it as a checklist, ensuring that all the most important points of the conference are discussed (an example agenda can be found further in the article). Of course, there are situations in which we throw the schedule 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 during a meeting, you are doing it wrong. Try to establish an environment where the employee says 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.


It's actually that much or so much. With the above tips in mind, you should be ready to introduce 1: 1 matches with your team. If you have had such meetings before, I 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 acceptable practices mentioned in the article and note-taking!

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