One-on-One Meetings

One-on-One Meetings: Complete Guide with 7 Tips and Free Resources

One-on-one meetings are one of the most critical skills for any manager. They allow managers to get to know their team members better and form stronger work relationships. It is one of the most vital meeting formats, but managers either ignore it or take it for granted. This post will help managers understand the importance of one-on-one meetings and give them six tips to conduct one-on-one sessions in the best possible manner. By following these tips, managers can make the best out of their one-on-one meetings with their team members. It will also ensure that they have a good and thorough knowledge of each team member.

What are one on one meetings?

One-on-ones (1:1s) are an essential tool for any good manager. A one-on-one is your chance as a manager to connect and build a bond with your team member. It also presents an opportunity for managers to check in with their team members, get to know them, provide feedback, receive feedback, and course-correct as needed. The focus should be on topics beyond work rather than on taking status updates.

Moreover, 1:1s can also be an excellent opportunity for team members to raise issues or concerns with their manager. These are meetings or sessions that managers have personally with individual team members to discuss their work, wellness, performance, motivation, team environment, and more. To perform effectively, the team should know their goals and objectives and what to do to fulfill them. One-on-one meetings are the best way to do so.

Why are one-on-one meetings important?

One-on-one meetings are essential for many reasons, including:

  • Enhanced Understanding: One of the primary benefits of these meetings is that they allow managers to gain deeper insights into their team members, their aspirations, and their needs through attentive listening.
  • Open Communication: These meetings facilitate candid and open communication, allowing team members to share updates on their work status and engage in productive discussions.
  • Relationship Building: Regular meetings contribute to cultivating stronger relationships among team members, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration within the team.
  • Performance Management: They provide a structured opportunity for managers to offer constructive feedback, conduct performance reviews, and guide team members, thereby improving team performance.
  • Feedback Loop: Managers can also leverage these meetings to receive feedback about their leadership and management style, helping them refine their approach and enhance team dynamics.

How to set up One-on-One Meetings with Employees?

Getting Starting – The first one on one meeting with employees

The first one-on-one meeting is pivotal as it lays the foundation for a strong working relationship. It’s an opportunity to establish trust, open lines of communication, and set the tone for future interactions. If the employee is new to your team, use the first one-on-one to provide a warm welcome, introduce them to the team’s goals and culture, and address any initial questions or concerns. On the other hand, if you are taking your first 1:1 as a manager, focus on building rapport, understanding the team’s dynamics, and showing a willingness to learn from the employee’s insights and experiences.

A few things that managers should keep in mind include:

  • Prepare Adequately: Both the manager and the employee should come prepared for an effective meeting. As a manager, you can focus on the relevant information for the employee and their role. Moreover, sharing the agenda in advance is a good practice to help employees prepare as well.
  • Create a Welcoming Atmosphere: Choose a comfortable and private location for the meeting to ensure the employee feels at ease.
  • Start with Introductions: Begin by introducing yourself and your role, and encourage the employee to do the same. You can include a few personal anecdotes here to establish a good rapport and discover shared scopes for connecting.
  • Listen Actively: Give the employee ample time to speak and actively listen to their thoughts, concerns, and expectations.
  • Set Clear Objectives: Discuss the purpose of the one-on-one meetings and what both parties hope to achieve through these regular interactions. Additionally, define the role of the employee within the team, clarify expectations such as those relating communication, and start the working relationship on a positive ground.

How to structure one on one meetings with employees?

A structured approach ensures that one-on-one meetings are comprehensive, well-organized, and cover critical employee development and performance areas. It also promotes open communication and a focus on actionable outcomes. The structure of a one-on-one meeting depends heavily on the team member and their manager. While managers sometimes lead the meetings and set agendas, the team members hold the baton for others. In general, a sample one-on-one meeting with employees can be structured like this:

Opening: Start with a warm greeting and build rapport. Create a comfortable and open atmosphere.

Employee’s Agenda: Invite the employee to share their agenda or topics they want to discuss. Listen actively and encourage them to express their concerns, ideas, or questions.

Review of Previous Action Items: Discuss any action items or commitments from the previous meeting. Address progress, challenges, or completions.

Goal and Project Updates: Discuss the employee’s progress on current goals and projects. Share feedback on their performance and achievements. Identify any obstacles and brainstorm solutions.

Development and Career Growth: Talk about the employee’s career aspirations and development goals. Explore opportunities for skill enhancement and advancement within the organization through training, mentoring, or resources available.

Feedback and Discussion: Offer constructive feedback on their work and communication. Address any concerns or challenges and encourage the employee to ask questions and seek clarification.

Action Items and Next Steps: Summarize key takeaways from the meeting. Define action items, responsibilities, and deadlines. Also, confirm understanding and commitment from both sides.

Closing: Express appreciation for the employee’s time and contributions. Reiterate your commitment to their growth and success.

Follow-Up (Post-Meeting): Document meeting notes, including action items and commitments. Send a summary email to the employee and initiate any necessary follow-up actions.

one on one meeting structure

How often should managers conduct one-on-one meetings?

Managers need to constantly communicate with their team to ensure the team meets the company’s goals. But how often should this communication be in the form of one-on-one meetings? There are some factors to consider in this case.

  • Manager’s experience: If the managers are new to the role and have recently been responsible for managing the team, they should conduct these meetings more often, like once a week or once in 15 days. This is also applicable for managers starting new roles or taking charge of new teams in place of another manager. It is because new managers will still be putting things in place, and a bi-weekly meeting with team members will help them with ideas to shape everything well. However, if the managers have a settled team, a low frequency of meetings, like once a month, will do the needful.
  • Type of work: If the job assigned to the team or a few members of it is too hectic, conducting regular one-on-one meetings with the team members would be helpful to understand their perspective and provide guidance as the project proceeds. However, if the team displays higher ownership and can take on delegated tasks quickly, a lesser, still regular, frequency would be suitable.
  • Team size: One of the significant factors to be considered when deciding the frequency of one-on-one meetings is the team size under the manager’s span of control. If the team is too big (>15), the manager has no other chance to go with low frequency, like once a month. Whereas with a small team (<10) under control, managers can consider having more frequent one-on-one meetings like once a week or bi-weekly, giving them a chance to build stronger bonds with the team.

How to conduct one on one meetings? 6 Effective Tips

One-on-one meetings are an essential part of team management. They allow managers to get feedback from individual employees and establish clear expectations for the team. By following these six tips, managers can make the most of their meetings and achieve their objectives:

Make a schedule in advance

Making the most of one-on-one meetings can be challenging, especially if you haven’t planned. By scheduling your session in advance, you can develop a game plan and ensure that both sides can fully prepare themselves. Scheduling it in advance will also allow your employees to take time for the meeting and plan their work accordingly so that their productivity doesn’t get interrupted. The best way to make it predictable is to put a recurring invite in your respective calendars. E.g., have a 30 min slot booked with each of your team members on the last Friday of the month.

Further, if, due to any circumstance, you will not be able to join and you have to cancel or reschedule the meeting, you should also inform the team member about that in advance. It will ensure that there is no waste of time, and they will be able to manage some other essential tasks within the time saved by the meeting being canceled or rescheduled. Also, ensure that you don’t skip a missed meeting. You must reschedule it for the earliest available opportunity.

Establish clear expectations of what will be discussed during the meeting

After scheduling the meeting, the next step is establishing clear expectations of what to discuss. Without clear expectations, one-on-one sessions can be frustrating and time-wasting for both sides. A manager should always set the agenda or clear expectations for the meeting and cover all the key areas they want to discuss. It will help avoid surprises or unforeseen issues that could disrupt the meeting or cause tension between the manager and their team. Additionally, a manager should also take the time to understand their team members and tailor the meeting agenda accordingly. By doing this, both sides will get the most out of the meeting and emerge with a better understanding of each other.

Try to make the meeting as specific as possible

Managers often spend too much time on generalities in their one-on-one meetings, wasting time and resources. Instead, try to make the meeting as specific as possible. For example, if you aim to determine why an employee’s low productivity in the past week, make sure that your questions revolve around figuring out the same. By being specific, you will also ensure that employees understand the thought behind the meeting, which will give them an idea about the changes or consistency you seek in their performance. Going in any other direction can waste not just your but also their time.

What other mistakes can make your meetings ineffective? Learn more here: 10 One-on-One Meeting Mistakes that are Hurting Your Team

Use the meeting to get feedback from individual employees

One of the most important aspects of any manager’s job is getting employee feedback. Feedback is essential to improve the team and work environment and ensure that your team members are comfortable with each other and how you manage them. However, it is not easy for managers to get that feedback from employees that is too honest. These one-on-one meetings can be a great way to get this feedback from employees. When you interact with your employees, the sense of confidentiality can allow them to be honest with you about the team and work environment. Their thoughts will help you identify gaps or shortcomings and improve the team’s environment and work quality.

At the start of the process, the team members may not open up and give feedback. But as you build trust with them and they know that you genuinely seek feedback, they will start opening up. This clearly shows that you have built trust with your team member.

Check out more tips to facilitate healthy employee relations here: Effective Tips to Ensure Healthy Employee Relations

Take notes during the meeting for future discussions

Taking down a few notes can prove highly beneficial when you have a one-on-one meeting with an employee. By doing so, you can capture the key points discussed and ensure you have a clear recollection of the conversation.

Additionally, taking down these notes can be used as a reference for next time. Taking notes will help you better understand the employee’s perspective. This will also help you address open points or action items you may have agreed with the person. Next time you meet, you can start with the action items and update the status to each other. Moreover, by keeping a record of all the discussions with employees, you can bridge the communication gap and build trust and rapport with them.

Ensure to address all points before ending the meeting – don’t leave any questions unanswered!

Managers need to make the most out of one-on-one meetings by ensuring to address all points before the session ends. Doing this will avoid any potential conflicts or misunderstandings that could arise later on. Additionally, it is essential not to leave any questions unanswered. This will give the manager a better understanding of employees’ concerns and help resolve any issues that may arise. Leaving any points unaddressed or any questions unanswered can also be detrimental in the long run. It can lead employees to believe that they do not matter and will cause frustration at work.

Check out some smart tips for effective virtual one-on-ones here: 7 Best Practices For Making Virtual One On One Meetings Effective

Free Resources to Make Your One-on-One Meetings Effective

One on One Meeting Agenda Examples for Managers

  • Feedback and Development: Provide feedback on the recent client presentation and discuss ways to enhance your presentation skills.
  • Career Development: Discuss your long-term career goals and how we can help you achieve them within the company.
  • Workload and Prioritization: Review your current projects and discuss workload management strategies for the coming weeks.
  • Team and Collaboration: Discuss potential cross-functional projects and any challenges you’re facing while collaborating with other teams.
  • Professional Development and Training: Identify relevant training programs and courses that can enhance your skills in data analysis.
Find more examples here: 9 Well-designed one-on-one meeting agenda: Driving growth and engagement

One on One Meeting Subject Line Examples for Managers

  • One-on-One Meeting Request: Let’s Catch Up
  • Upcoming One-on-One: Your Input Needed
  • Time for Your Quarterly Check-In
  • Discussion Needed: Your Career Development
  • Next Steps and Feedback: One-on-One Meeting

One on One Meeting Template for Managers – Free & Printable!

free one on one meeting template for managers
Looking for more free one on one meeting templates? Head over here: Top 5 One On One Meeting Templates For Engaged And Productive Teams

One on One Meeting Questions for Managers

  • What would you like to discuss in today’s meeting? Is there anything specific on your mind?
  •  How do you feel about your current projects and workload?
  •  Can you update me on your progress toward your goals since our last meeting?
  •  What obstacles or challenges have you encountered in your work recently?
  •  Are there any areas where you feel you need additional support or resources?
  •  How can I assist you in your career development and growth within the company?
  •  Do you have any feedback on our team’s dynamics or communication?
  •  Is there anything you’d like to share or discuss about your long-term career aspirations?
Find more questions for one on one meetings with your team here: 25 One On One Meeting Questions for Managers


One-on-one meetings are essential for the manager to get direct feedback from the team. By understanding the tips outlined above, the manager can ensure that the meeting is productive and allows for open communication. We have a highly detailed and efficient One-on-one meetings toolkit for you. This toolkit contains all the information you need to conduct one-on-one meetings effectively. From a template to preparing pre and post-meeting notes, this toolkit will help you understand in-depth how managers can conduct these one-on-one. Go ahead and give it a read.

Get more value out of one-on-one meetings with the free toolkit.

An effective guide for conducting valuable one-on-one sessions with your team.

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