One on One Meeting Tips (with effective template, agenda, and questions)

The one on one meeting is a proven management technique, cited by Auzenne and Horstman from Management Tools as “the one common thread of all exceptional managers.” One on one meetings allow employees to express their thoughts and ideas, while the meetings aid managers in overseeing employees’ productivity and career development. This ongoing communication is a key to business success because it resolves issues and cultivates new ideas. But managers need to organize and conduct the meetings correctly. With over 11 million meetings each day in the United States alone, the one on one meeting can’t be “just another meeting.” This resource provides insights into templates, agendas, questions, and other best practices of the one on one meeting to help managers and employees maximize their time together.

one on one meeting


Customer Testimonial:Libby Donoghue, Executive Director, uses StatusPath to streamline one on one meetings. Read how StatusPath makes Libby’s meetings forward-looking and strategic.

Commit to your 1 to 1 meeting
The first thing you need to do is make your one on one meeting a priority. It’s easy to skip meetings, so schedule a recurring calendar event each week to ensure the appropriate time is set aside. Our customers typically schedule their one to one meetings the day after the team updates their status and progress against key objectives.

effective one on one meeting

Establish the right one on one meeting agenda
Ensure a productive use of your time by starting each meeting with a clear agenda. Some managers like to create a structured agenda that is used across all employees. Other managers prefer to have each employee create the agenda, thus giving the employee a stronger influence in the direction of the conversation. The key here is consistency – setting a mutually-agreeable agenda allows the participants to show up prepared and with aligned expectations.

Get concise with a one on one meeting template
Creating a meeting template is a great way to formalize your agenda and to collect the information you’ll need to conduct the meeting. StatusPath customers use our standard status update process as the template: Open Plans, Recent Accomplishments, General Commentary/Help, and Objective Performance. Templates can and should be customized if you feel your industry or function requires it.

one on one meeting template

Prepare so you can look forward, not backward
One of the biggest improvements to the one on one experience is thoughtful preparation. If you submit your template to your employee the day before your one on one meeting, you will arrive at the meeting already knowing everything that’s been accomplished, all plans, and any areas of friction. Such a foundation of understanding allows you to spend the bulk of your time looking to the future, brainstorming, creating action items, and connecting personally.

Make it a bilateral, personal conversation
It is important to make sure that a one on one meeting is not one-sided. This time between a manager and employee needs to be a fluid conversation, with heavy amounts of give and take. There will be time to delegate and manage during the week, so managers need to use this meeting to collectively discuss not only business, but generally how the team is doing. Go out your way to discuss employee morale, and to ensure your team members feel comfortable with their career and personal development.

Keep the focus at the objective level
You and the team are evaluated by your ability to achieve objectives and their related results, so use your one one one time to check in on objective progress. Effective managers are strong sounding boards and strategic thinkers – use that skill set to help your employee navigate pitfalls and address challenges in their pursuit of objective success. While you don’t need to connect at the task level during the meeting, do focus on the most important upcoming plans and recent accomplishments related to a person’s objectives. This will allow you to be specific in your feedback without micro-managing.

Manage the team better by getting everyone on the same page. StatusPath helps you very simply collect status updates on only the most important objectives, while engaging your team every step of the way. Your one on one meetings will no longer be spent catching up; rather, your time with the team will be forward-looking and strategic. Get started in minutes – try StatusPath for free now!

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Quick tips

Consider having your one on one meeting outside or out of the office – the change of venue can contribute to a more relaxed session.

Avoid discussing other employees’ work during your time together, unless it’s specifically applicable to the conversation.

Appreciate each employee’s need for career development. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their role. Explore areas of professional interest.

Don’t forget to save a portion of each one on one for open commentary and questions. Your employee needs to be able to ask questions and give you candid feedback.

Your team does great work – recognize it by liking and responding to their status updates!