One-on-One Meetings with Employees

One-on-One Meetings with Employees

How often do you have one-on-ones with your direct reports?

Sitting down with for a one-on-one with direct reports regularly is something that BetterManagers regularly do.

Expressing genuine interest in a direct report’s well-being — both personally and professionally — is paramount to building an engaged workforce. The best practice in scheduling one-on-ones (based on research) is to meet with direct reports weekly.

In our recent survey of 1000 managers, we found that 57% of the managers meet with their direct reports at least weekly, and 30% meet monthly or less. A common reason why this happens is a lack of time. If you flip that around and look at it from a different perspective, how can managers afford NOT to meet with their direct reports on a more regular basis? How do they know if the team’s vision, mission and values are being met? How do they know what team member’s strengths are and what the individual obstacles might be?

One-on-one meetings with team members

A key component of effective one-on-ones is to review not only the team’s goals and how the direct report’s work fits into those goals, but equally important, knowing what is important to the team member. What are their aspirations and goals? This information cannot be learned in a team meeting, but rather, during an effective one-on-one meeting.

There are three key questions a manager can ask when beginning to host one-on-one meetings. These are:

  1. What are your “wins” this week?
  2. What continues to challenge you this week?
  3. How can I, as your manager, support you?

By starting with this simple framework, a manager can begin to build a strong and productive one-on-one relationship with the direct report.

How often do you cancel one-on-ones with your direct reports?

If you do have one-on-one meetings with your direct reports and you find that you cancel often (or they cancel often), it’s time to rethink your intentions and actions around the meetings. Cancelling one-on-ones signals that this team member is not as important to you as your other priorities. Check out this video on why one-on-ones are important.

During one-on-ones, what percent of the agenda is set by you?

If you usually set the agenda, it’s probably time to reconsider. Focusing on the work itself is important, but as I mentioned earlier, focusing on your direct report’s development needs is equally important. Leave room on the agenda for issues that are important to them. Agree on a structure that works for both of you. Don’t forget the personal check-in as well.

In your one-on-ones, what percent of the time do you talk?

Just as important is how much time you spend talking, compared with how carefully you listen. Listening is one of the most difficult skills to master. If you talk a high percentage of the time, then it may be time to practice active listening. Listening to understand what is being said is very different from listening to respond. In an article on effective listening, Diane Shilling provides listening tips. She says, “When listening to someone talk about a problem, refrain from suggesting solutions. Most of us don’t want advice anyway. If we do, we’ll ask for it. Most of us prefer to figure out our own solutions. We need you to listen and help us do that. Somewhere way down the line, if you are absolutely bursting with a brilliant solution, at least get your team member’s permission to offer it.”


Your relationship with individual team members is critical to the success of the team. Without strong, clear lines of communication, confusion and discontent can arise. Creating a bond with team members is essential to working together effectively, and there is no better time to build that relationship than during your one-on-one meetings.

The time spent interacting with your direct reports is important, and BetterManagers work hard to make every minute count!

Why are one-on-ones important to you?

Click here for BetterManager’s Guide to Effective One-on-One’s.

Interested in learning about leadership coaching options for your managers?

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