Performance Management
3 min read

How to have more impactful 1-on-1 meetings

Allison Moser

Senior Product Marketing Manager, Culture Amp

Reading Time: 3 minutes

One of the most important touch points between a manager and their direct report is the 1-on-1 meeting. 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 that are 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. Our new tool, 1-on-1 Conversations, is currently available to Culture Amp customers in an early access program. It is built to foster discussion about the whole employee experience, not solely status updates.

(If you’re a Culture Amp customer, reach out to to start using 1-on-1 Conversations)

“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 special

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

Principles for 1-on-1 Conversations

  1. 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 to their own insights. This creates new mental maps and the motivation to change. Our product includes a bank of carefully curated coaching questions to ask in different scenarios.
  1. Shared ownership. We believe it’s critical for a 1-on-1 to be a co-created experience between a manager and their direct report. Both individuals are spending precious time in the meeting and it’s important they both take ownership of it. The shared agenda and 1-on-1 space in our product encourage this collaborative relationship.
  1. 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.
  1. Real connection. We created 1-on-1 Conversations 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 at hand.

With these guiding principles, we’ve created a product that we believe will drive meaningful positive change in the lives of employees, helping both managers and their direct reports continually grow and develop. To learn more about 1-on-1 Conversations get in contact with Culture Amp today.

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