The ultimate one-on-one meeting template

Written by: Nora St-Aubin | Illustrated by: Chloé Allard
Published on December 2, 2020 | Reading time: 6m

One-on-ones are an essential part of how you fulfill your role as a manager, but carrying them out effectively isn’t always easy. You want to make sure you cover the right talking points, follow up on action items, and create continuity from one conversation to the next. Accomplishing all of this can be challenging, especially when you’re having them weekly or even monthly with multiple direct reports. 

An agenda template supports you in keeping conversations on track, focused, and productive. We’ve outlined the ultimate one-on-one meeting template to help you structure discussions effectively, so you and your employee can walk away with a clear and common understanding of your next steps.

What is the purpose of a one-on-one meeting?

The practical purposes of one-on-ones include everything from getting status updates on employees’ priorities and deliverables to removing blockers and planning what’s coming up. But one-on-one conversations are also a moment to tackle difficult conversations, exchange tough feedback, discuss career goals, and much more.

Ultimately, the purpose of these meetings is to drive employee engagement, performance development, and team alignment. You want to look backward as well as forward with employees, and set meaningful action items that lead to real outcomes. Having the guiding structure of an agenda template for these conversations ensures that you cover the most important talking points every time.

What if you could lead game-changing 1-on-1s?

Your go-to guide for efficient one-on-ones

What should you discuss in a one-on-one?

Knowing what to talk about in one-on-ones is a challenge for managers and employees alike. The truth is, your conversation topics will vary from week to week according to the context of your team and what each employee is currently facing in their work. But whether you’re following up on an action item you set in your last meeting or offering feedback on your team member’s recent work, the conversation will be more efficient with a shared agenda to refer to.

Even better is when you both contribute to the agenda—creating one-on-one agendas collaboratively with employees drives their engagement and participation in the conversation. One-on-one software like Officevibe helps you build your meeting agenda together, so you both have visibility on what you’ll be discussing and arrive at the meeting prepared. When you’re done, set action items that carry over to your next meeting agenda so you’re sure to follow up.

Agenda template for every one-on-one meeting

This agenda template is designed to fit every one-on-one meeting, no matter your talking points or planned output. The most important things you need to discuss will come up naturally in the flow of the conversation, and you can easily make space for coaching, feedback, and troubleshooting problems together throughout.

Agenda template for one-on-ones

1. Informal check-in (5 minutes)

Ask your employee what they got up to the previous weekend, or what they’re most looking forward to in the next month. This chat can be work-related or not—the important thing is that you start the conversation off with a warm tone. Share something about yourself with your employee, too, to help establish a sense of equality and comfort.

2. Recent work recap (10 minutes)

This is your employee’s chance to catch you up to speed on what they’ve been working on, their progress towards their professional goals, and what they’ve accomplished since your previous meeting. It’s also a great moment for you to give them meaningful recognition for their hard work. Let them lead the discussion and keep this part positive—constructive feedback is better shared in a forward-looking context. For example, if an employee was closed-minded in a recent team brainstorm, reminding them of the importance of embracing out-of-the box ideas in an upcoming meeting will be more effective than simply telling them they were too closed off.

Status update prompts from Officevibe:

  • Can you share a recent example of a work situation in which you thrived? What were the key components that led to your success?
  • In your judgement, what does our company value or expect from you with regards to your performance? Have you had the opportunity to satisfy these expectations or actualize these values in your work?
  • Describe a recent work situation where you felt you were at your best professionally.
Officevibe discuss mindset and growth prompts

Like these prompts? You can access dozens of other talking point suggestions in Officevibe’s Conversation Engine for one-on-one meetings.

manager standing in front of an 1:1 dashboard

Prep one-on-ones in record time!

1-on-1 software that makes planning quick
 and conversations meaningful.

3. Upcoming work preparation (20 minutes)

Discuss what’s coming up for your team member, what they’re excited about, and how you can help them. This is a good moment to ask questions to coach employees in their roles. It’s also the right time to plan ahead and mitigate any risks or blockers to their success. With the context of their recent work still top of mind, you can also use this time to offer feedback that’s applicable to their upcoming endeavours.

Coaching prompts from Officevibe:

  • Do you need to have a clearer picture of how your individual goals allow us to attain our goals as a team or a company?
  • Do you need my help identifying which actions could help you achieve your goals?
  • Do you think that we should work together to revise your goal?
define individual goals prompts examples

Like these prompts? You can access dozens of other talking point suggestions in Officevibe’s Conversation Engine for one-on-one meetings.

4. Open discussion (15 minutes)

While it’s your role as a manager to keep a more high-level view, it’s also important that you stay connected with your employees’ day-to-day realities and keep lines of communication open. Especially in remote one-on-ones, giving employees the time and space to share with you encourages them to let you know how they really feel, and helps you build mutual trust. It also helps make you aware of any issues with the team, business, or a certain project you may have missed.

This is when your employee has the floor to bring up whatever else they have on their mind, and one of the most important parts of any one-on-one. Simply ask: “Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to discuss?” Your job during this part is to listen.

Example of a collaborative agenda where you can add your talking point for your one-on-one meeting

5. Wrap-up and set action items (10 minutes)

At the end of every one-on-one, it’s important to wrap up the discussion by highlighting the key takeaways and setting 2-3 action items. Start by asking your employee to summarize the main things they got out of the conversation. Once they have, feel free to contribute anything extra that stands out to you. Together, agree on who is responsible for each action item.

Officevibe’s 1-on-1 software makes wrap-ups easy by letting you set trackable action items after every one-on-one meeting with employees, then reminding you of what needs doing so people always know how to follow through on their commitments. Turn action items into real outcomes with Officevibe.

manager standing in front of an 1:1 dashboard

Prep one-on-ones in record time!

1-on-1 software that makes planning quick
 and conversations meaningful.

Tips for having great one-on-one conversations

Try these tips to take your one-on-one meetings from good to great.

Don’t just give feedback, ask for it

The manager-employee relationship is a two-way street, and your direct reports have valuable insights that can help you improve in your role, too. Check in with them on how they feel your one-on-ones are impacting their work and if there’s anything else you can discuss together to help drive their success. This helps you better support employees and develop a culture of feedback on your team.

Use a one-on-one software

Using a software is a great way to prepare one-on-one meetings faster, make sure your talking points are relevant, and follow up on agenda items from your last meeting. Officevibe’s one-on-one tool helps you create meeting agendas collaboratively with employees and prompts you with question and talking point suggestions. Your stored meeting notes are displayed so you can easily pick up where you left off every time.

One-on-one meetings are how you stay connected with each direct report, and build alignment across your team. No matter how the context changes week to week, having a go-to agenda template to structure the conversation helps you cover the right talking points and set action items that lead to real outcomes.