One on one meetings is the best way for a manager to build trust, motivate and improve his team’s performance. It is the best tool for discussing sensitive issues and ensuring that the employee’s goals are being met. One on one meetings not only benefit the manager and other employees, it also has a positive impact on the bottom line. According to a study by Workplace Research foundation, employee engagement programs such as one on one meetings can increase profits by $2400 per employee per year. All of these benefits accrue only when this meeting is used effectively.


Problems with One on One Meetings

It’s easy to cancel. Most often, managers cancel these meetings. They involve a significant time investment and other priorities seen more important.

Nothing to say. After several sessions of one on ones, the direct reports may feel that there nothing new to discuss. Engaging one on one meetings are replaced with awkward silence.

No structure. These meetings have the most impact when conducted as informal sessions, but no structure can cause these meetings to become ineffective. The rules that apply to other business meetings are often abandoned, such as taking notes, following an agenda and ending with action items.

Status updates. Instead of discussing issues that concern their direct reports, managers often use the one on one meetings to understand what his direct reports are working on and status of projects.


How to Use the Employee One on One Meeting Template

The one on one meeting minutes template can serve as a guide and make your meetings fun and engaging. The one on one meeting template has the following elements.

Review of action items and feedback from the previous meetings.

Topics to be discussed at the current meeting which can include development objectives, feedback the direct report has received from clients, strategies to overcome obstacles and issues that concern both the manager and the direct report.

Action items that result from the discussion above.

In order to use the template and improve the efficiency of your one on one meetings implement the following steps:

Set up Recurring One on One Meetings

Before you even begin your one on one meeting, it is important to set up recurring meetings Continuous feedback can improve performance to a large extent when compared with sporadic feedback. Forbes suggests holding a one on one meeting once a week or close to it, to get the most benefit. Even when the schedule is ready, it takes immense discipline to not cancel the meeting when work begins to pile up. Don’t cancel the meeting, reschedule if something unavoidable comes up.

Determine Frequency of One on One Meetings

The frequency depends on a number of factors, such as the number of people on your team, the experience level of your direct reports, manager’s position in the organization and other commitments such as travel, etc. There is no one size fits all.Tweak the frequency according to the needs of each employee.

Start with a Positive Vibe

Start your one on one meeting with an informal chat about your direct report’s personal life. This helps the direct report to relax and start contributing to the conversation. If you are a manager, share something personal too. This builds rapport and trust. You can also begin by summarizing what was achieved since the last meeting. Also, review progress made on feedback and action items from the last meeting.

Agenda Designed by Your Direct Report

One on one meeting are likely to be more successful if organized and run by direct reports. Make the meeting about them and listen to their concerns. Don’t be too rigid about the structure. Let thoughts and conversation flow freely. This strategy forces direct reports to prepare for the meeting and think about how he wants to spend the meeting time. It also serves to boost his morale- he knows there is a place to share his concerns and be heard.

Development Goals Update

Spend time understanding the progress made towards development goals. Check if these goals are still relevant and change or update them accordingly. Also, celebrate the success that has been achieved with regard to the goal.

Don’t Let Status Updates Swallow Your Meeting Time

Don’t include status updates in your one on one meetings, but if you must, limit it to five mins or less. Encourage your direct report to send a summary before the meeting. This way you can ensure that these feedback sessions are not a total waste of time.

Understand Your Employee

Use this meeting to understand your employee’s skill set. Brainstorm and lay down a strategy to utilize these strengths. Ask them if there are any specific skills that they would like to learn, that will benefit the team. Encourage them to also think about their weaknesses and suggest ways to improve.


Questions to Ask during the One on One

Jason Evanish outlines 101 questions to ask in one on ones . Here is a list of questions derived from this list that will be instrumental in gathering useful insight.

Questions about project

  1. How is the project going? What can be done to improve the present state?
  2. Are there any obstacles that are impeding progress?
  3. Are there any other projects that you would like to work on?

Questions to ask about career aspirations

  1. What are your long term goals?
  2. How can I help you achieve them?
  3. Is your career advancing here in this organization? What can we do to improve the pace?
  4. Is your current work in line with your long term goals?

Questions on suggestions for improving company wide practices

  1. What can we do differently in team meetings?
  2. What can we do to improve our market position?
  3. What do you think about the company culture? Is there anything you would like to change?
  4. What can we do to increase the creative quotient of the company?
  5. Do you feel your work contribute towards achieving the company’s overarching goals? If not, why?
  6. If you were the CEO, what is the first problem you would address?

Questions on learning and improvement

  1. Do you find your work challenging?
  2. Are you learning new skills?
  3. Are you getting sufficient feedback that helps you improve? How do you want to receive feedback?
  4. Is there any training that you require?
  5. Are there other roles in the company you would like to explore?
  6. What are the key skills you require for your role? How strong are you in these skills?

Questions about happiness

  1. Are you happy with your work?
  2. What can I do to make it more enjoyable?
  3. Are there parts of your job that are not exciting? If yes, then which parts and why?
  4. What according to you is your greatest contribution to the team?
  5. Which of your contributions do you feel is the most unappreciated?

Questions about personal life

  1. How are you? How is your work/life balance?
  2. What did you do on your holiday?
  3. What are your hobbies?
  4. What motivates you to come to work every day?

Questions about manager improvement

  1. How can I support you in your work?
  2. If you were in my place, is there anything you would do differently?
  3. Is there anything that you feel I can do better?
  4. What would you like to know about me?


How to Discuss Sensitive Issues During One on One Meetings

Discussing sensitive issues begins with building trust and a strong relationship with direct reports. Once these relationships are established, then it becomes easier to give and receive constructive criticism. Focus on the act and not the person, this helps the employee realize that feedback is not an attack on their personality but a chance to improve behavior. Always couple criticism with a couple of compliments. This helps the direct reports understand that their positive contribution is also being recognized. Make it a two-way street, ask your direct reports for criticism on your work or management methods. This shows that everyone has scope for improvement, irrespective of job title..Instead of offering negative feedback, ask them how they feel about a specific situation, from here, work together on finding a solution to the problematic situation. This gives direct reports the opportunity to own up to their mistakes and develop solutions that have a higher chance of success.


How can Employees Prepare for One on One Meetings

Employees can contribute as much to a one to one meeting’s effectiveness as a manager. Below is a list of steps that will help employees prepare for their next meeting.

  1. Share what work has motivated you the most since the last meeting.
  2. Share those events that negatively impacted you since the last meeting.
  3. Share how you would like to advance your career in the firm. List roles or skills you would like to explore.
  4. Mention at least one thing that you are thankful for. (your project, company culture, etc)
  5. Bring your concerns about specific issues.
  6. Evaluate your performance, find your greatest weakness and bring suggestions to improve it.

One on one meetings are not casual check-in sessions where no useful outcome emerges. They are an opportunity to engage, discuss, motivate and clear roadblocks. Get more done at your next meeting with the MeetNotes one on one meeting minutes template.