1:1 meetings are a regular check-in between two people in an organization – usually a manager and a direct report. It is commonly used to give feedback, remain aligned on various projects, resolve issues, and fundamentally help the direct report grow in their role.
The flexible and people-focused nature that goes beyond status updates is what makes the 1:1 special. It is often considered the most important meeting a Manager can have with their team, as it lays the foundation for a trusting and productive work relationship.
1:1s aren’t limited to Managers and reports, however. They can be used to stay aligned with other team members, an internal mentor, their boss’s boss (skip-level 1:1), or wherever it makes sense. In this guide, however, we’ll focus mostly on the typical manager-employee check-in that should be part of an ongoing performance management process.
Benefits of 1:1 meetings
Benefits for Managers
As a manager, 1:1s help you guide your team members’ growth and development, resolve issues early on, and improve employee retention. Dedicated 1:1 conversations create the space and trust to ensure you know what’s on people’s minds – so you can take action to keep them happy and productive.
Benefits for team members
As a team member or direct report, 1:1s help make sure they get the feedback and guidance they need to be successful in their role and advance them in their career. By listening to them and giving timely guidance, your manager can become a trusted partner for their success.
Benefits for the business
Company success relies heavily on the ability of managers to connect and communicate effectively with their team members, so people remain aligned to the mission and engaged in their roles. Establishing a culture where 1:1s are the norm makes this much more consistent experience across the company, leading to higher retention and productivity.
Did you know? Google’s Project Oxygen found that Managers who have frequent 1:1s were more likely to score higher than those that didn’t make this a regular practice.
Tips for effective 1:1 meetings
How often should you meet?
The sweet spot of 1:1 meeting frequency is about 30 to 60 minutes every week or two, but getting into the habit of having 1:1s in the first place is what really matters. You should aim to find a cadence that works for you and your team members depending on the depth of collaboration and the number of reports you have. If you and your reports collaborate closely and you speak every day, you might consider bi-weekly meetings. With more than five team members, it might make sense to meet every other week.
Where and when should you meet?
Face to face is always the best way to meet, as non-verbal cues are much easier to read. Meeting in person obviously offers the richest form of this, but video calling is also still an option depending on what is most convenient and/or available to you.
If you’re in the same office, then a quiet meeting room is ideal, or even a shared space can work. Heading out for a walk or going to a nearby cafe can also be a nice option for a more relaxed setting, but just make sure it’s a place where you’re both comfortable speaking openly.
Regardless of the time or location you choose, try your best to remain consistent so you’re not changing the time and location each week.
Preparing for your 1:1s
Good planning helps to ensure important topics don’t slip through the cracks and that you make the most of your time together. It’s great to have an agenda to make sure you cover what is most important, but try to avoid rushing or making things feel pressured. This should be a space for you to both feel like you can discuss things freely.
Impraise 1:1s allow you to both add your own agenda items as you think of them throughout the week, which helps to be more collaborative. It also means you have a set space to discuss and focus on items like this, which reduces ad hoc discussions throughout the week. Once this process becomes familiar to you both, you may notice that you’re adding and discussing items before they arise as issues, leading to a more proactive relationship.
Notes and action items
Adding notes to the key topics discussed helps to eliminate misunderstandings and also makes it easier to follow up on things you talked about previously – especially if you need to revisit items from a long time ago.
Action items are also incredibly valuable for setting clear next steps for things that need to be taken to resolve issues or to move projects forward. Assigning these to an individual creates accountability to increase the feeling of ownership and makes it easy to revisit outstanding items the next time you meet.
💡 Tip: You can create Private Notes for each report to remind yourself to cover sensitive topics that you don’t want to share beforehand, or to note things you want to revisit in the future.
Now it’s time to put these learnings into practice! Go to your 1:1s to get started today.