How to Have One to One Meetings with Staff

How to Have One to One Meetings with Staff

As a leader, you may need to have one to one meetings with your staff. How can it be done successfully with all objectives achieved? Well, in this article, we’ll go over how to have one to one meetings with staff members.

The Value Of One To One Meetings

Effective One on One Meetings

One of the basic principles of effective leadership is to conduct one to one meetings with your staff.

If you haven’t tried this then you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.

It goes without saying that timely feedback is priceless.

Corrective feedback is given at the right time.

Most probably at the onset before a small problem becomes a big headache will save you a lot of time, funding, and other investments.

They improve communication because you get to have more feedback.

It promotes career growth and provides a clear purpose of work.

They make managers more trustworthy.

These one to one meetings are also an opportunity to see how valuable employees are.

They become an avenue for the staff and managers to voice their frustrations.

Eventually if used correctly these meetings settle interpersonal as well as inter-team conflicts.

Process-building feedback, coaching, and recognition will eventually build trust and it increases the team effort in the workplace.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg of benefits.

Improves Employee Engagement

One on One sessions

A Harvard Business Review report showed that one to one staff meetings tend to improve employee engagement by 67% (click here for source).

As they dug deeper into the data, they found out that employees that have never experienced one to one meetings tend to have an unfavorable view of their leaders.

They are 4 times more likely to take that view than those who have had these meetings.

Learn From Adobe And GE

One on One reviews

Both GE and Adobe made it a big piece of news (source) that they were switching their approach from performance reviews to frequent one to one meetings.

It’s not that you should quit performance reviews altogether.

We’re just using these two companies as examples that have succeeded in their one to one meetings.

Adobe reported that they experienced a 30% reduction when it comes to employee turnover.

GE, on the other hand, reported an increase in productivity by as much as 400% in as little as 12 months.

Of course, as stated earlier, you don’t have to get rid of performance reviews.

You can pick out the benefits of one to one meetings and still make use of performance evaluations.

Reduce Employee Turnover

First One on One meeting with employee

We all know how expensive employee turnover can be.

The damage done is worse when you have key employees and actual managers leaving for other pastures reports that the 27% of employees who look for new jobs on a daily basis mention “poor relationship with a manager or boss” as well as “lack of work-life balance”, as their primary reasons for wanting to leave their jobs (source).

50% of people surveyed also say that they are underappreciated.

Microsoft Workplace Analytics also stresses that one to one meetings can be used as an effective tool to reduce employee turnover.

To put it simply, simplifying the words of guru, entrepreneur, and author Ben Horowitz, “having wonderful one to one meetings will be a big help to avoid causing your workplace to be seen as a bad place to work”.

Making Time For One To One Meetings

One on One meeting talks

One of the things that discourage leaders from actually doing one to one meetings is the fact that it is very time-consuming.

It might potentially eat up a large amount of your time.

However, what will your staff and other employees think if you shy away from doing these meetings?

Here are three possible reactions:

  1. Some will feel relieved. Why? Because you will miss that opportunity to know the thing that they don’t want you to find out.

2. Some will feel frustrated. Why? It may be because they really need your help and they want the work to move forward. Unfortunately, they lost that opportunity to bring up the issues they’re concerned about.

3. Some staff members may even feel angry. Why? It is because canceling or never having that one to one meeting is a message to them that they are just not worth your time.

So, how do you make time?

One on One meeting invitation

Here are a few time-management ideas that can help you make time.

  • Step back and define what you want to achieve and how much time you can allocate to these meetings.

David Allen once said, “you can’t win a game you haven’t defined.”

Determine how much time you need to spend with all staff members.

  • Find out which tasks you can delegate to someone else. Use that to free up some of your time. Compute how much time that frees up in your schedule. If that still doesn’t free up enough time then you can do the next step.
  • Find tasks that you can outsource. Some tasks can be outsourced, as long as it doesn’t violate any of your company’s policies. If your secretary is already overloaded then you may outsource some of the tasks to a virtual assistant.

One on One meeting

  • Let someone else do the things that you know you’re not that good at. If you have a staff member that can do certain tasks much better than you can then hand it over to them.
  • Make one to one meetings one of the “non-negotiable” items in your agenda/to-do list each week and then build your schedule around those things.

The bottom line here is to manage your time so that you can include one to one meetings in your schedule.

You can meet staff members once a week or you can meet them as often as is efficient. month.

It’s all up to you and the way you build your schedule.

The important thing is to make the meetings an important part of your routine.

What To Do Before The One To One Meeting

One on One agenda

You don’t want to just jump in unprepared when you conduct your actual one to one meetings.

There are at least three factors that you should consider before the crucial minutes of each meeting.

Remember that you can decide whether you want to meet with each staff member for 30 minutes or up to 60 minutes.

Your Mindset

One on One meeting with manager

You must set the proper mindset before starting a one to one meeting.

It doesn’t need to have a fixed agenda.

That means you can do it as an informal conversation form.

Remember that it is not a performance review.

You can have one to three items that you would like to discuss but be sure to allow your staff to bring up topics and other matters as well.

You can even conduct it in a way that all the items on the agenda come from your staff.

Remember that the employee or staff member that you are meeting with will be the star of the occasion.

It is about them, not you.

Someone once suggested that you, the manager should only talk 10% of the time only during this meeting.

One on One discussions

You may even discuss your staff member’s personal goals.

That would include both long-term goals and short-term goals.

If that employee feels like they are being isolated or are not part of the team (and other work-related issues) then he or she should feel confident enough to be able to discuss that with you.

Make Your One To One Meetings A Regular Thing

one on one employee meetings

Make sure that your staff understands that you will be having these meetings on a regular basis.

Remember that you are to make time for them.

You can put that announcement out in a memo or company email.

When you meet with an employee for the first time, explain the idea behind this meeting.

Again, emphasize that this is not a review.

Give a short description of what is about to happen.

Offer suggestions with regards to topics that they may want to talk about.

Before you begin, emphasize that you will be meeting one on one again.

Then give the next schedule or at least an estimated time frame.

How Much Time Will All These Meetings Take?

one on one meeting with staff

Your time as a manager is precious and of course, spending it on one to one meetings will take a lot of it.

Now, another important detail with these meetings is their frequency.

If you start them and you don’t follow up regularly, then you won’t get the results that you are looking for.

Remember, what you are shooting for is timely feedback.

The New Routine: Feedback Sharing

employee one on one meeting template

Another thing that you have to remember to emphasize is feedback sharing.

You give your feedback and your staff member also gives you feedback.

With that in mind, you are creating a new company culture: continuous feedback.

Do that and you will open communication lines like no other.

Big Tip: Sprinkle some personal conversations with your staff throughout the day.

You don’t have to schedule them – no need to.

Walk over to the water cooler and have a chit-chat with the people there.

It doesn’t have to be work related.

Talk about their families.

Find out what they do for fun outside of work.

The goal is to ensure you aren’t cooped up in your office all day long.

These informal personal conversations will build rapport which will contribute a good amount of respect and understanding when you conduct your one to one meetings with your staff.

No Need To Keep A Detailed Agenda

one on one meeting questions

In fact, you don’t have to stick with it.

Well, you may want to use one during the first two or three sessions.

However, by the third session, fourth, and so on, you should have built a good rapport with your staff.

Now, you should also be open to the idea that they will also evaluate your management and leadership style for a change.

Make sure to consider the feedback and take it seriously.

Whatever they say shouldn’t always be used to evaluate their performance.

Conducting The One To One Meeting

how to have one on one meeting with staff

You take the lead in the meeting, of course, and you also set the tone.

Your focus is to ask questions and actively listen.

Be sure to understand the feedback that you are getting—which means asking questions for clarity.

Where To Conduct Your Meetings

You can conduct meetings in your office.

You can also have them at a coffee shop.

Some managers conduct them while having lunch.

Beginning The Meeting

running an effective meeting with staff

Begin the meeting with just a simple statement like, “so, do we begin?”

If you’re in a coffee shop or deli you might want to order some food first.

Remember, it’s not necessarily a formal meeting even if you do have a list/agenda with you.

What Questions To Ask

You can have an ad-hoc list of things you might want to talk about.

And that’s good for the first few sessions.

However, it might also be a good idea to have a few general topics to cover.

Here are a few general topics that you might want to go over.

You don’t have to go through them all.

Just figure things out with your staff member.

You can always go over the other topics in your next meetings.

Work Habits

conducting one on one meeting

Ask them about roadblocks, stressors, time-wasters, etc. in their tasks this week.

Find out which tools help them become more productive.

Ask if they feel stuck in their career.

Which part of the day do they feel the most productive?

Ask what part of the processes that you are implementing isn’t helpful and if there any suggestions they would like to make?

Their Relationship With The Team

Ask questions to discover more about your team.

If you ask in the right time and manner not to mention the right questions, you will discover hidden opportunities and challenges within your team.

Ask if they are experiencing any difficulties working with the team or with any members of the team.

Ask for ideas on how to make the team work better together.

Find out about the amount and quality of feedback from the team.

Also, ask for suggestions that can be implemented right away that may help the team work better.

Find Out How Happy They Think The Team Is

one on one meeting with boss

Ask if they are happy working with their current team.

Try to know what you as the manager can do to help make their tasks more engaging.

Ask if they’re happy about the last project that they worked on.

Ask about the biggest accomplishment they’ve made thus far and if they feel appreciated because of that.

Short Term Goals

This can include personal goals and professional goals.

Find out about projects or assignments that they are interested in.

Ask how things went that week or the week before, etc.

Long Term Goals

one on one meeting template for managers

Inquire about what they want to achieve this year, next year, in the next three years, etc.

Which part of their work today do they feel contributes to their career in the long-run?

What are their long term life goals?

What do they want to accomplish and have in their lives?

Personal Development

Are they still studying?

Is there training that they would want to attend?

Do they have interests in other fields not related to work?

Do they need more coaching in certain aspects of their personal lives?

Is there anything you can do that might help them?

Manager Improvement

Ask how you, the manager, can support them even better.

What do they like or dislike about your management style?

What were situations this week where you, the manager, could have helped them more?

How much involvement do they need from you?

Concluding The Meeting

meeting with employees

Wrap up the meeting.

Choose at least 2 good points that you like that they raised and mention it.

Schedule the next meeting.

Suggest a short action plan that you will use for your next one to one meeting.

Thank your staff member/employee for their time.

After The Meeting

Take five minutes after the meeting to highlight discussion points and outline the action plan for the next meeting.

If you made any promises, make sure you set a timeline for delivering on them.


one on one meeting with employees

That’s basically how to have one to one meetings with staff members.

Remember that this is your tool to improve feedback within the team, check the team’s morale, build rapport, and also provide coaching.

When was the last time you had a one to tone meeting with your staff members?

What is its impact on your company?

Do leave us your comments!

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how to have one to one meetings with staff