30 Remote work survey questions for work from home and hybrid employees
It’s no secret that the rise of remote work has changed the way many organizations operate.…
Have you ever thought of one-on-one meetings as a secret ingredient that’s essential to effective leadership? One-on-ones are a valuable time (and in some cases the only time) to connect with your direct reports on a personal level. They offer the opportunity to exchange constructive feedback, tackle difficult conversations, discuss career goals, and much more.
The thing is, this is true with thoughtfully planned, well-executed one-on-one meetings, where care and attention are evident at meeting time—as opposed to wasting time and raising frustrations with poorly designed meetings. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top one-on-one meeting tips to help you facilitate insightful conversation, develop trust with your employees, and inspire results from your team.
Your top 13 tips for running more engaging one-on-one meetings:
One-on-one meetings with employees are a great opportunity to check in with how your team is doing overall. In more stressful times or in times of change, it’s even more important to take the time to understand how your team members are being affected.
Make sure you schedule your one-on-ones at a dedicated time you know you can make regularly. Do your very best not to cancel, or let them cancel the meeting. Keeping your commitments builds trust with your team.
⏰ Tip: Don’t be late! You may be running back-to-back meetings all day long, but your team members don’t necessarily know that. If you have back-to-back meetings, be clear at the start of each one when your hard stop is, and stick to it. Showing up late sends a negative message that you don’t respect their time—not the best way to set the tone for the meeting ahead.
Get in the habit of scheduling one-on-one meetings frequently to build a better relationship with your employees. Scheduling one-on-ones at regular intervals with every member of your team keeps communication ongoing. Once a month isn’t enough to make meaningful progress. Instead, aim for either weekly or biweekly one-on-ones. This pace is especially important when people are new to a role, new to the company, or are facing challenges with performance.
Not to fret: Everyone can recognize that things come up, and it might not always be possible to meet this frequently. If you have to push an upcoming meeting because of pressing priorities, consider either rescheduling the one-on-one for later in the day or week or shortening the meeting time for the day as an exception.
It’s still possible to run an effective meeting in 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes. Your commitment to maintaining frequency will show your employees that you value your one-on-one meeting time.
Just as it would be for any other meeting, preparing in advance for one-on-one meetings is key to making the most of everyone’s time together. Review your notes from the last meeting and plan your agenda of topics ahead of time to discuss. Keeping a consistent meeting structure with a one-on-one agenda template will save you time and help you stay focused on the issues that matter.
Remember: You might not be the only one with an agenda. And this is a good thing! Employees might have agenda items of their own that they want to bring up in the meeting. Encourage this engagement and be sure to dedicate time for them to bring up their issues, challenges, and ideas.
Boost employee engagement and participation in the conversation by sharing the agenda before the meeting. Ask them if there are any topics they would like to talk about and meeting agenda items they want to add. Sharing the agenda in advance gives you both visibility on what you’ll be discussing, making it easy to arrive at the meeting prepared.
💡 Did you know? Officevibe’s one-on-one software lets managers and employees set talking points in a shared meeting agenda throughout the week. You can save on prep time by using the customizable one-on-one meeting template offered directly in the app.
One-on-one meetings offer the opportunity to build rapport with your employees and connect on a personal level. Spark free-flowing conversation by asking them about things they’re interested in, like hobbies, what they did over the weekend, or upcoming vacation plans. Dedicating time in the meeting to talk about more than just work shows your team members that you care about them and their well-being and encourages open and honest dialogue.
Stuck for some fresh conversation starters? Here are some different ways you can check-in and start getting to know your team members better.
One-on-one meetings are a conversation, and often the best way to lead a meaningful conversation is to ask questions. Open-ended questions are a great way to guide the conversation, exchange important information, and collaboratively find solutions.
Come prepared with more one-on-one meeting questions like:
Did you know? Officevibe’s one-on-one meeting software helps you plan, track, and follow up on every conversation in one place. Plus, dozens of recommended talking points live in our Conversation Engine so you get to the topics that matter most, every time.
Nothing is worse than being set up for a good conversation (*cough* tips 1-through-6 above), and then when it comes your time to talk, the other person interjects their ideas or consumes the conversation. Doing so is a sure-fire way to kill employee engagement.
Remember: One-on-one meetings are important times to build the manager-employee relationship. The main goal is to foster a positive employee experience. Share space for them to share their voice.
Be open to hearing what your employees have to say with the intention of understanding, and aim to listen 80% of the time and speak only 20% of the time.
Now is the time to be “all ears.” Do less of the talking and focus on them. Everyone’s communication style can be different, and it’s crucial to create an environment where your employees feel comfortable expressing themselves freely. Whether it’s a remote one-on-one meeting or you’re having it in person, being present (*hint* silence those Slack notifications) is going to make the difference between a fruitful experience or not. For both you and your employee.
Tip: Use active listening techniques to strengthen your interaction and build a better understanding. By giving your undivided attention while mirroring and validating what they say, you may pick up on underlying issues they hint at—and be able to bring the challenge to the surface by asking relevant follow-up questions.
It’s reasonable to think that you and your employees will want to touch on work priorities during your one-on-ones. However, this is not the time for performance review. Try to avoid spending too much time on status updates. Chances are, there are other meetings dedicated to those kinds of discussions. It’s also likely that others on your team need to hear those status reports too, and having to repeat updates is an inefficient use of time for everyone.
Taking notes during your one-on-one conversation not only shows your employee that you value what they’re saying, but it helps you remember it too! Writing notes will help you stay organized amongst multiple meetings, track progress, bring new topics to the discussion, and keep meetings fresh. Having a clear record of what you’ve discussed helps you follow up in your next conversation.
Tip: A one-on-one software like Officevibe can help you centralize your meeting notes so you have a record of your conversations with each employee on your team. You can create shared one-on-one agendas, set and track action items, and keep private meeting notes in the app that only you can see.
One-on-one meetings are a perfect moment both for giving feedback and collecting critical feedback from employees. An easy question like “what can I do to help you this week?” can reveal insights that help you better support your team. Fostering a culture of feedback is a vital part of maintaining your team’s health and improving your role as a manager.
As a manager, you are uniquely positioned to align your professional ambitions with serving and supporting your employees on their career path. One-on-one meetings are an ideal time for career discussion—for getting deep into both the wins and challenges in their current role and setting future career goals. By gaining insight into your employees’ aspirations and skillset, you can then help structure and expand opportunities for career development.
🎯 Tip: There are a ton of goal setting frameworks available. We recommend getting started with these simple, straightforward goal setting tips for every manager.
Take a moment at the end of each one-on-one meeting to decide on the next steps. Having discussed the current challenges during the meeting, now is the time to talk specifically about how they will be addressed and who will be responsible for what actions. You can then sync up on those action items at the start of the next one-on-one meeting. It’s another way to track progress over time.
Here’s the thing: Make sure you’re keeping your promises. Actionable next steps are likely to fall in the hands of both you and your employee. Lead by example and follow through on your actions items on time.
Your one-on-one meetings are a dedicated time in your busy schedule for you to connect with your employees. Just like team meetings help bring visibility to your team’s work and dynamics, one-on-ones focus on employees’ individual development and how it drives the team’s success. By providing a safe space to discuss anything from stresses and wins to having more formal performance reviews, you build stronger relationships with your employees, enriching your experience as a manager.
In short, the many benefits of one-on-one meetings are well worth taking the time to prepare and commit to a regular schedule. And you don’t have to do it alone. With Officevibe’s simple one-on-one meeting software, you can plan meetings, set goals together with your team, and track progress easily. It’s a win-win!
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