Making the Most of One-to-One Meetings

Leadership / September 24, 2021

One-to-one meetings with your employees are arguably one of the most important times in your week. But many managers don’t take this time seriously, or make the most of it. Could you be wasting some of the most impactful and useful time of your whole week? We examined this at Justin Cobb Leadership Academy.

A 1:1 (or one-to-one) meeting is a planned regular check-in between a manager and an employee. Mostly we use it to share feedback and cope with any issues that may arise on the job.

From a practical perspective, this meeting can achieve a lot. But the true benefit is more important. These meetings set the stage for a relationship based on trust and open communication. A relationship that turns an employee into a protégé and even a friend.

How can we make the most of these meetings, and make sure we achieve the maximum benefit?


The one-to-one meeting doesn’t begin when the person enters the room. Take the time to prepare and plan, so you understand the person and their goals. If they are performing badly, set a goal of figuring out why and how you can help. If they are performing well, plan to recognize this and help nudge them a little further along the path.

Imagine what success looks like for this person. If they are already meeting that vision, then help them to continue doing so. If not, then imagine ways they could get there. Practical and achievable solutions are best. Now set a plan and agenda for your meeting.

The Meeting

Start the meeting with a check-in to gauge how your employee is feeling. Don’t forget to also express how you feel. Set the tone of the meeting and some expectations for what will be discussed.

Make sure to revisit any tasks that were set in the last one-to-one. Try to tie tasks and goals into larger long-term objectives, so you can check in and see if progress is being made. Hold them accountable and ask them to examine the reasons behind unmet targets.

Don’t only focus on performance and outcomes. Take time to ask about employee morale and personal wellbeing. Also, take into account growth without outcome. As managers, we look at the bigger picture. If an employee didn’t meet sales targets it doesn’t necessarily signify a lack of growth. Perhaps their pitch improved dramatically, or they beat their own personal best.

Don’t forget to follow up on meetings and keep an open line of communication. A one-to-one every week is even better if you add regular check-ins and an open-door policy so employees can address roadblocks as they arise.


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