One on one meetings offer a range of benefits to both management and staff, but many management teams avoid them as they feel they’re uncomfortable or too difficult. However these meetings are essential as they can boost team productivity, morale, and engagement. All while helping management keep their finger on the pulse by understanding the real thoughts and feelings of their team members in a more personal setting.
The key to a good one on one meeting is the preparation of a structure that’ll cover all of the necessary discussion points and make the most out of the time spent in the one on one meeting with your team.
This allocation of time is important, but it’s also a great advantage for your managers and company. Let’s take a deep dive into this version of a team meeting, how to get the most out of them, and how hr software tools can help with this, especially if you manage a hybrid or fully remote team.
What are one on one meetings?
Luckily, one on one meetings are very appropriately named, which makes them relatively easy to explain! A good 1 on 1 meeting will give a manager a chance to check-in and have a conversation with their employees in a personal setting as opposed to a team gathering. They’re a chance to build trust in an authentic and vulnerable way that provides a two-way street for understanding objectives.
One on one meetings should toggle a line between a professional update with action items and tasks that support the employee’s objectives, OKRs KPIs and a more impersonal chat about how the team is functioning and how staff members are feeling about the workplace.
Your team is much more valuable than their work, and the 1:1s provide an opportunity to appropriately check in with them on a personal basis. You can take work out of the equation and ensure that their home life is not adding stress that might affect their productivity. If it is, this gives you a chance to be aware of and sympathetic to it.
When handled correctly, these meetings are an excellent way to discuss challenges, direct reports and employee concerns. They can be a long term learning opportunity and chance to hold your team members accountable with clear expectations and constructive feedback to better their overall performance.
What should be covered with team members during an effective one on one meeting?
Each one on one meeting should allow the employee to share what’s on their mind to give you an indication of both positive and negative talking points that may need to be given attention to. From here, you can move onto performance and development updates which are kept brief, to check-in and see if the staff members goals are on track and what challenges there may be to their goal achievement.
You can then move on to significant action items or projects that are currently on the go and use the meeting as an opportunity to offer help and support resources or more time if needed.
Provide positive or negative feedback, reinforce expectations and discuss any adjustments or changes that may be needed for employee behaviour. The meeting should also be used to facilitate learnings and develop skills that can contribute to increased job satisfaction. You can resolve work-related problems, discuss employee assistance if needed, identify any personal issues and above all, reinforce how you can help.
Finish all 1 on 1s with a summary of what has been discussed and agreed to along with plans for a follow-up within a specific time frame to make sure everything will be actioned. At the end of these, you should have a better understanding of how that particular staff member feels as well as how to get the most out of them.
How often should you have one on one meetings?
While this may vary based on schedules and various other preferences, it’s recommended that 1 1s are scheduled every week, or at minimum fortnightly, to help with employee engagement. This may seem quite regular, but the goal is frequent communication to ensure your employee knows you’re putting effort into your working relationship with them. If a one on one meeting needs to be cancelled, it’s vital to ensure that you don’t let more than a week slip by between sessions.
Most effective one on ones will typically last about 30 minutes which is based around 10 minutes for their thoughts, 10 minutes for your thoughts, and 10 minutes for the sharing of information. They can, of course, go for longer if needed, but if you’re maintaining a fortnightly catch-up you don’t want to take too much time out of your busy work schedule.
It should be noted that these are general rules and suggestions, and it’s important that you find what works best for you. Every company, manager and employee is different, and the key to success in this style of meeting is flexibility. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but you also want a level of fluidity so you can show your staff that this time is important and help them to feel comfortable and open up.
How employees should prepare for one on one meetings with their boss or manager
The one on one meetings will be a lot more comfortable and worthwhile if the participants have time to prepare for them beforehand. This effort helps your employees to feel valued, which is one of the top things they care about at work. To help staff with this, the manager or leader running the one on one meeting can send a list of questions or an outline to let them know which areas will be covered during the one on one meeting.
The manager should prepare specific content or an agenda for each one on one meeting as well. If you have a regular one on one meeting template in place, staff may feel more confident in driving the one on one meetings and discussing specific issues, challenges, ideas or opportunities. It can also be a great idea to allow space for new topics to be added during the one on one meeting itself as certain things may arise while having various discussions.
If you want to take it a step further, you can use an employee performance review software such as Employment Hero which enables each manager to set recurring one one one meetings where employees can log in and answer the questions which will then be ready for them to discuss during the meeting. This gives staff more time to think about what questions to ask or discuss with their manager, and also ensures feedback has effectively handled both ways.
Ideas for topics to cover during your one on ones
There are many different questions you can ask to strengthen the relationship between your team and management during the one on ones. To help, we recommend you bookmark our in-depth list of 105 questions to ask and refer to it when planning one on ones in the future.
We’ve broken our list into sections, and here’s a small snapshot of some of the key questions to ask to provide some clarity around what should be asked in one on one meetings discussions:
Employee engagement question examples
- How do you feel your week has gone?
- Did you achieve your goals from last week?
- Is there anything you’d like to talk through this week?
- Did you do anything different that has worked well for you this week?
- How are you prioritising your tasks?
Roadblocks and challenges question examples
Employee happiness question examples
- What were your challenges last week?
- What’s your most significant concern about your role right now?
- What do you think you will learn from your latest challenge?
- Do you feel like you have enough support resources?
- Have you considered other options to overcome roadblocks?
- How do you feel about your work/life balance?
- Did you feel good about coming to work this week?
- Do you have the right tools to succeed?
- Would you recommend working here to your friends?
- Is there anything that is annoying or upsetting you?
General communication question examples
- How are you feeling this week?
- How is your life outside of work?
- Are there any hobbies or interests you have that you could bring to work?
- Are you on track when it comes to achieving your personal goals?
- What do you think about these one on ones?
Learning and development question examples
- Are there any skills you want to improve?
- What is one area here at work that you would like to master?
- Is there anything specific you’d like to work on?
- What method helps you learn best?
- How has your learning contributed to your success this week?
Personal and professional development question examples
- How have you progressed your personal goals this week?
- What can I do as a manager to help you achieve your goals?
- Where do you see yourself in your career in one year’s time?
- What’s the first step in achieving your next career goal?
- Do you have any fears in achieving it?
Management feedback question examples
- Is there anything that I can teach you?
- Are there any specific skills you’d like to learn?
- Is there a way I can be a better manager?
- Do you like my management style? If not, what do you prefer?
- Is there anything else on your mind?
These are just some examples of ways to regiment your meeting to a degree and get some valuable conversations flowing. Tailor them to your specific situation as needed.
The best methods for documenting one on ones
Employment Hero can make your meeting prep and documentation much more organised. Our performance review software makes it easy for managers to keep up with action items and goals, while also offering a calendar. This makes scheduling effective one on one meetings much easier as everyone has transparency into their team’s movements.
Employment Hero offers a range of tools for management teams to run effective meetings and follow-up processes:
- Custom fields to record notes and information after 1 on 1 meetings about your employees to keep on top of discussion points and tasks
- Organisational charts which allow for easy creation of a staff directory
- The Hero Passport which allows past employees to access important documentation automatically such as payment summaries
- A Company Announcements section which allows for updates to be posted about meetings and seen by the whole team
- The Company Feed which id a social network style feed to share a range of information, PDFs, documents, videos and more where you can also share insights from the one on ones
- The Assets Register which keeps track of everything owned and used by the company from phones to cars
- The Tasks section that makes accountability and transparency easy. A great spot to list the topics discussed in meetings ensuring collaboration, accountability and productivity
You can also ensure your meeting outcomes are more effective with Employment Hero checklists which make team communication quick and easy. You can set up a meeting or performance management checklist within Employment Hero which will notify employees about certain to-do tasks that have been discussed, saving time and keeping people on track.
Extra team meeting tips
Remember that these meetings are all about human care, getting to know and creating a space for the growth of your employee. You want them to know that they have a manager who is personally invested in them. Not all meetings will be a fun catch up. Sometimes they may need to include a difficult conversation, but on the flip side, they can be a great opportunity to appreciate accomplishments or plan a career trajectory.
Here are some extra tips to keep in mind to ensure your time is well spent:
- Try to understand what’s going on within your team beforehand for more effective discussions during the meeting itself
- Approach the meetings as a collaborative effort, especially when planning agenda items
- Remember that a manager is a bridge between where the employee is and where they want to be
- Always start with a check-in of how you are both feeling
- Get updates on employee objectives, particularly of any action items that were set in the previous meeting
- Don’t be afraid to dissect challenges as solving the problem together can be a great way to open up a discussion about how to best help that employee grow or develop
- Be direct and ask about team morale, this shows that you give importance to team camaraderie and want to promote healthy collaboration
- Recognise and reward wins, as high performing organisations are supportive and complimentary, enter your meeting with some examples of things the employee did well
There should always be some action items, clear expectations and timelines when the meeting is done. This will help employees stay focused on their development plan, and you can offer coaching notes to assist further. Employees can refer to past conversations for performance reviews and contemplate problems on their own.
Flexible discussions with one on ones
By aiming to meet with regularly, everyone within your organisation, and the company as a whole will benefit. Try hard to never cancel, and if you do, make sure you reschedule for a time during the same week if possible.
You want to demonstrate the meeting’s importance, discuss strategies and programs, successes and frustrations and build a positive relationship with your staff. Keep a running list of issues you want to discuss and turn that into bullet points that can be shared before the one on ones.
Above all, stay flexible and allow the typical agenda to be pushed to the side if need be. Be open to feedback on what you could do differently, and learn about the people who work for you by connecting on a personal level. If you care about your employees as individuals, the one on ones are a great opportunity to show how much you appreciate them and what they do for your business.
If you would like to learn more about how Employment Hero can help manage your one on ones, click here for a free demo.
Alternatively, you can check out or one on one meeting template to get your 1:1 meetings started straight away: