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Blog - How to have more impactful 1-on-1 meetings
Allison Moser, author

Allison Moser

Senior Product Marketing Manager, Culture Amp

One of the most important touchpoints between a manager and their direct report is their 1-on-1 session. Usually scheduled weekly or every other week, 1-on-1s are critical as they help build connections (especially in a remote working world), create alignment across company initiatives, and mitigate stumbling blocks so employees can grow. 

But a lot of the time, managers and direct reports are not making the most of these meetings. Instead of being a focused conversation with coaching and development in mind, they end up being unstructured, covering little more than status updates.

At Culture Amp, we wanted to find a way to make 1-on-1s more than that. Unlike other solutions focused simply on recording notes and tracking meetings, we’ve created a tool that drives behavior towards more meaningful and productive conversations in an all-in-one intuitive product. As of 2021, our guided 1-on-1 conversations tool is now available to every Culture Amp customer - at no additional cost. It is built to foster discussion about the whole employee experience, not solely status updates.

(If you’re a Culture Amp Engagement customer, reach out to support@cultureamp.com to get started with 1-on-1s today.)

“1-on-1s can drive better performance, productivity, motivation, and growth by helping managers and employees talk honestly about things that impact their work and experience.” - Chloe Hamman

What makes our approach to 1-on-1 sessions special

To make 1-on-1 sessions more impactful, our in-house team of people scientists started by researching what drives behavioral change. Specifically, we looked into coaching psychology, behavioral science, work from our partners at LifeLabs, and Google’s Project Oxygen findings. We took these learnings, along with our findings from interviewing hundreds of HR professionals and managers, and created four principles to guide our new 1-on-1 conversations tool. 

Principles of Culture Amp's 1-on-1 conversations tool

  • Coaching. Google’s now-infamous Project Oxygen study found that the most important skill for being a good manager is coaching. The best managers are coaches, and coaching comes down to asking the right questions. We encourage solution-focused questioning through open-ended questions so that direct reports can come in with their own insights. This creates new mental maps and spurs one's personal motivation to change. Our product includes a bank of carefully curated coaching questions to ask in different scenarios.
  • Shared ownership. We believe a 1-on-1 session must be a co-created experience between managers and their direct reports. Both individuals are spending precious time in the meeting and they both must take ownership of it. The shared agenda and 1-on-1 space in our product encourage this collaborative relationship.
  • Self-reflection. Self-awareness is critical to growth. We seamlessly build self-reflection into the preparation step. Taking the time to pause and reflect ahead of time means that the most pressing items are planned for discussion. This also helps to identify if there is a lack of alignment.
  • Real connection. We created our 1-on-1s tool to go beyond status updates and support real, raw, and difficult conversations. Research has shown that focusing on building a relationship with your direct reports can actually change their brain to be more open to new ideas and innovation. We’ve specifically built-in questions that ask about factors that impact the whole employee experience, not just the work currently at hand.

With these four guiding principles at the forefront, we’ve created a product that we believe will drive positive change in the lives of employees, helping both managers and their direct reports continually grow and develop. To learn more about our 1-on-1 conversations tool, reach out to Culture Amp today.

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