The Power of One to One Meetings

03 May 19


One to one meetings are one of the most important management activities in an organisation.  They are an essential and highly valuable opportunity for managers to develop their people,  improve the performance of their team members and positively impact organisational culture.


One to ones aren’t anything new but despite managers recognising the need for these meetings they often treat them as just ‘nice to have’ or frequently cancel them.


Why is this? Perhaps managers don’t know what makes them productive, have too much on their plates or want to avoid sensitive topics. Managers can become frustrated that employees are disconnected from the values and vision of the organisation or not performing to the level required.


This is bound to happen if managers aren’t meeting regularly with their people to discuss their work.


Here’s some guidance on how to conduct effective one to one meetings, not just giving feedback but the right kind of feedback, to help managers grow their team.


The Mindset

  • Shift your mindset– Don’t think of them as updates but development opportunities for both parties, discuss their challenges and grow your leadership. Meet whether things are good or bad.
  • Meet frequently– If you’re not meeting frequently (monthly is best) you won’t know if they need to improve.
  • Be open– Ensure the conversation is open and focused on them. Let them do most of the talking but remain interactive. Ask them questions to show you are engaged but don’t interrogate. Use the technique of Active Listening. Turn off phones and close the office door.
  • Celebrate wins– Let them know you value and admire their achievements, no matter how small.
  • Specify results and ask how you can help– It’s likely they take a different approach to you, so allow them to find their own way under your guidance and make the most of learning opportunities.
  • Document –Ensure the conversation is documented so it can be referred back to as evidence of actions and accountability.


The Schedule

Plan your conversation and create a structure but let the conversation free flow. Structure can promote trust, raise fresh questions and encourage efficiencies.Here is a 45 minute meeting guide:

  • 10 minutes – check in, how are they doing, do they have any concerns
  • 10 minutes – what your direct report would like to raise with you
  • 10 minutes – what you would like to raise with your direct report
  • 10 minutes –  progress towards development goals
  • 5 minutes – state the action points and accountabilities


The Agenda

Create an agenda but don’t forget to ask your employee to create one too. Ensure you ask good questions within the agenda such as:


Work habits– when you learn how they work then you can support them to work more effectively

  1. When do you feel most productive?
  2. What changes can be made so you can make the best of your workday?
  3. If you get stuck how do you get unstuck? Who do you go to for help if you need it?


Improve wellbeing and productivity– improving interpersonal relationships between team members can promote higher levels of performance

  1. How are you?  Are you feeling in control, or not?  How is your health and work/life balance?
  2. Who in the team inspires you? Who do you find it difficult to work with?
  3. Do you want more or less feedback from me/the team?
  4. How would you like to work together better, are there any improvement suggestions?


Job satisfaction – this directly impacts engagement and productivity

  1. How can I help to make tasks more engaging?
  2. What projects do you like? What motivates you?
  3. What is your best accomplishment? Do you ever feel undervalued?


Short term and long-term goals – these can keep both you and them aligned with their short-term progress and longer-term fulfilment

  1. What projects have you enjoyed recently?
  2. Where do you want to be in 3 years? How can I help you move towards those goals?
  3. What projects would you like to be involved with in the future?


Manager improvement – what can you do to make work easier for them

  1. What is your preferred management style?
  2. Would you prefer more or less involvement from me?
  3. How can I support you better?


Personal development–learn about their motivations. Use these questions to engage employees in a future-focused discussion about their performance and career development

  1. What excites you most in your work? What are your aspirations?
  2. What skills do you get to use most? Are there knowledge areas you’d like to develop?
  3. What is one thing I could do to better support you/coach you?


As an experienced CEO and Director I know the importance of having a strong Board Chair to provide strategic leadership and direction.  Norman provides this leadership in abundance but also fully understands the need to give support and space to the management team for them to succeed.  He is prepared to make difficult decisions and will lead on resolving difficult issues when necessary.

Mike Stevens – Ex CEO, London Welsh Rugby Club