How to Conduct Effective One-On-One Meetings - EmployeeConnect
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How to Conduct Effective One-On-One Meetings

How to Conduct Effective One-On-One Meetings With Your Employees?

One-on-one meetings are an opportunity for managers and employees to understand past performance and identify potential issues in-between two performance reviews.

The traditional annual performance review has received a serious lift to deliver more added value to HR and align better with today’s business preoccupations. Today, many organisations try to be more agile to adapt quickly in a highly competitive environment. Implementing regular one-on-one meetings helps organisations adhere to a leaner, and more agile, project management approach to business.

In all organisations, the role of the manager is to continuously pull his team upwards. During one-one-one meetings, managers have the opportunity to play a true role of mentor and coach – rather than acting purely as evaluators in quarterly, bi-annual or annual performance appraisals. While the traditional performance review tends to focus on the negative aspects of an employee’s performance, a regular one-on-one meeting focuses on bettering the employee’s wellness by bringing solutions to the challenges she or he may face on a daily basis. Not only that, but it allows people to be more productive to punch out their workload more effectively, benefiting both the organisation and employees alike. Overall, we can say that holding regular and effective one-on-one contributes to creating a better workplace for all.

Why are Individual Employee Meetings So Important?

Whether you plan your one-on-ones on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, they should be considered as an important moment to review the key events that occurred recently, and also plan future activities and projects. Let’s try to understand why one-on-one meetings between a manager and an employee are so essential.

“Why should we meet when we already see each other everyday?”

That’s a question that often comes back when the necessity of one-on-one meetings is questioned. It’s true that in today’s modern workplace we are used to facilitate communication between employees and managers. We work in open space layouts, managers’ office doors are meant to stay always open, we chat around the coffee machine, and use internal live chat, emails or phone calls whenever we need to ask something.

Based on this situation, it could be easy for a manager to think that there’s no point planning formal meetings with his employees given that they can already reach out to him easily.

To answer this question, let’s think a bit about the following:

“Is it more interesting to be proactive or reactive (on the long run)?”

We’re so used to get what we want nearly instantly: an answer to a question, a helpful hand to complete a project, a signature.

Our daily life leaves us few chances to take a step back and analyse our actions. We generally answer “I’m great!” automatically when asked “How are you?”,  but is it always true? We rush, try to do our best to keep things together and hang on tight to make things work. However, this attitude is not sustainable on the long term and will only work for some time.

Taking the Time to Have a Break and Step Back

When we avoid 1:1 meetings and regular face-to-face interactions, we may miss opportunities to say out loud the issues that are bothering us because we’re so anchored in a routine. Individual face-to-face meetings are the ideal moment to mark a pause, take our activities and tasks aside to sit and have an authentic and sincere conversation with our manager.

Best Practices for Successful One-On-One Meetings

Planning the visibility of your employees

Here the idea is to take time out of your agendas to organise recurring meetings. This will allow your employees to capture your undivided attention and have the visibility they need to approach topics on a deeper level.
This should not be understood as “We see each other every five months, so keep your questions until then,” but rather like “We keep monitoring daily happenings when necessary and also have a prime time to discuss more important issues on top of that”.

The fact of allocating time on a regular basis is also an opportunity to track the progress of objectives. A meeting frequency that is defined will also allow managers and employees to adjust objectives promptly when necessary.

Preparing and Getting Prepared

You have two options at this level:

  • Your one-on-ones follow a defined structure that is used at each meeting. For example reviewing the previous period: areas for improvements, difficulties, actual needs, and the period to come and mutual commitments.
  • Your individual meetings will look at different themes based on what’s relevant at the time of the conversation.


In both cases, don’t forget to communicate the content and subject of the meeting when inviting an employee to discuss, and ask them to prepare those topics ahead of time. Precise that you expect to hear more from them. Asking employees to prepare engages them in the process. You ensure that they are ready to contribute and will be the main actor of the conversation. Employees who have had a chance to prepare prior to a one-on-one meeting will be more compelled to exchange, expose their thoughts and feelings, making the process more fluid.

Changing Scenery

One thing you definitely want to avoid is staying at your desk. You certainly don’t want to gather around a table corner with piles of paperwork next to you and the phone ready to ring at any second. The topics that you are going to cover don’t concern your co-workers or other people in the office. Try to arrange for a proper meeting room to ensure you can focus on the subject at hand (or even get out of the office if you think it’s appropriate or would like to make the exchange less formal). Employees need to be provided with the right conditions and a safe place to be able to focus and talk openly.

Encouraging Communication

Keep in mind that a one-on-one meeting is not about you, but about your employee. If preparation has been done properly, he or she will have things to talk about. Try to respect a speaking time share of 80/20 in favour of your employee.

If problems are exposed, try to get employees to bring their own solutions. If needed, help them in their thought-process and guide them, but expect proposals to come from them in the first place. It’s always more motivating to stick to the commitments we’ve formulated and proposed ourselves.

Formalising What’s Been Said

Taking notes or minutes will help summarise what’s been talked about during the interaction. It’s simple and factual. Your notes will constitute a memory of the conversation and will ensure that a common understanding and engagement is shared across the board.

So how do you organise one-on-one meetings? Let’s talk in the comment box below!

Oriane Perrin

Customer Success & Growth Manager