One to One Meeting Advice for Managers

Most successful companies realise that providing a generous level of 1:1 time is essential for helping a team to develop more fully and to realise their full career potential. It is a recognised way of both hothousing talent, and conversely, of quickly addressing any underperformance.

Here are some simple tips to make sure everyone gets the most from 1:1s, and that they become both a valued and valuable part of the communications process within a company.

Diary it and do it.

It’s essential that you recognise the importance of a 1:1 meeting. It’s every bit as important as a group meeting, and this should be reflected by the fact that it’s diaried in advance – and that it takes place! No putting it on the long finger. No last-minute cancellations. The team member involved has been busily preparing what they’re going to say about how things are going, and what they need to progress further. It’s an important session for them, so make sure it happens. A platform like Frankli is the perfect way of automating 1’1s.

Agenda it.

Most 1:1s are allocated anything from a half-hour to an hour. That time can evaporate very quickly unless you’ve created a clear agenda – and stick to it like glue. By having an agenda in place, both parties can prepare much better for the meeting and can bring along any supporting examples that might strengthen their position.

Capture it.

It’s essential that both parties agree to what was discussed and agreed at the 1:1. Whether you record it or simply keep minutes of the meeting, the output should be shared within a couple of days, at the latest. This is even more important if there has been a level of ‘heat’ or disagreement at the meeting.

Make it clear what should happen next.

If you have had to discuss a lapse in performance, it’s really important that you set out what should happen next – in very specific terms. It’s not enough to use terms like ‘pulling your socks up’ when you actually mean ‘hitting these three KPIs without fail”.

It’s mostly about the team member.

While any 1:1 is a two-way process, it’s mostly about the team members. Let them do most of the talking, and if they have an issue, ask them for suggestions on how to resolve it before giving your own take on the matter. Never ever look to multitask while the meeting is in progress – such as answering an email or taking a ‘quick call’. Make the 1:1 feel like your colleague is a priority and that the discussion is important.

Start with the positive.

When reviewing someone’s performance, it will inevitably be made up of the good and the not-so-good. If this is the case, start off with the positive. Make sure you take time to spell out what has been good since the last meeting. Take a little time to celebrate it. This sets a positive tone and lets the team members hear about possible gaps with a greater level of openness. It’s also a great place to start from if you’re looking for a team member to take on more responsibility or maybe even a new role.

Be quick to offer help.

Even with the strongest contributing team members, there will be times when they may be challenged. When this happens, very quickly exploring what you – or the company – can do to help is most useful. When you have a strong team member suddenly hitting a wall, it’s clearly not due to motivation or commitment, as they’ve proven themselves many times in the past. It’s much more likely to be due to a specific skills deficit or something else going on for them. Asking how you can help or if there is any input that might be helpful is constructive.

Look forwards – not backwards.

It’s inevitable that you may have to spend some of the meetings looking to the past, but the sooner you get to looking forwards, the better. It changes the dynamic of the meeting completely and focuses on development, improvement and whole new opportunities to excel.

Listen, listen, listen.

If you ask team members how the meeting went, their reaction will be very much based on whether they felt listened to. The simplest way of doing this by far is to ‘play it back’ in your own words, e.g. “You would like to work towards being promoted this year”.  


For further information on how Frankli can help you to deliver a better 1:1 experience for all employees, feel free to get in touch here.


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