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Lyssa test – Culture Amp writer

Lyssa Test

Writer, Culture Amp

Every one-on-one meeting you have with an employee has so much potential. You can discuss current projects, stay up-to-date on blockers, discuss professional development opportunities, and more. But 30 minutes is a small window to cover all these topics. You need the right shared agenda and one-on-one meeting template to stay on-task, hold yourself accountable, and make the most of your time with your employee.

As a manager, 50% of the meeting’s success rides on you. To help you nail your part, we’ve compiled this quick guide explaining why one-on-ones are important and what to cover in these important conversations. We also share a detailed, science-backed one-on-one meeting template you can use to lead effective conversations with your direct reports.

What is the purpose of one-on-one meetings?

One-on-one meetings (also known as 1-on-1s) are recurring meetings between managers and their direct report that ideally go beyond simple status updates or performance conversations. Done right, these meetings improve employee-manager alignment while also supporting employee productivity, motivation, and growth.

These conversations will be most successful if managers and employees create and use a shared agenda to guide their discussion. Ensuring your one-on-ones have a clear structure will help you maximize your limited time together and ensure your employee gets the support they need to thrive in their role.

What topics should I focus on during a one-on-one?

1-on-1 meetings should cover more than just status updates. Here are a few other topics you’ll want to make space for in your meeting agendas, as well as a few questions you can ask your employee around these topics:

  • Roadblocks: Is there anything hindering your productivity and progress at the moment? How can I help resolve these issues as your manager?
  • Productivity: Do you have set hours in the day when you’re most productive? How can I optimize your work schedule around these times?
  • Employee wellbeing: Are you feeling burnt out? When was the last time you took PTO? Are you taking regular breaks and managing your energy level?
  • Work relationships: Do you feel connected to and part of the team? Are you having any issues with colleagues?
  • Professional growth: How are you progressing toward your individual development plan? Are you on track to reach your larger career goals?
  • Goal progress: How are you trending towards your quarterly (or annual) goals? Are you on track, or do performance targets need to be revisited?
  • Recognition: If your employee recently exceeded expectations for their role, let them know and celebrate their success.
  • Feedback: Let your employee know what they’ve been doing well lately and what areas (if any) they could improve.

If that seems like a lot of material to fit into a quick 1-on-1, don’t worry. You don’t have to cover every topic mentioned above in every meeting. Every conversation will vary depending on what’s top of mind for you and your employee during a given week.

One-on-one meeting agenda template: How to lead an effective conversation with your employee

There’s a lot to get through in a weekly 1-on-1, so here’s a simple four-step process you can follow to make the best use of the time you and your employee spend together. Follow this one-on-one meeting template to keep your meetings on-task and productive:

1. Start with a casual check in

At the beginning of every meeting, make time to chat casually with your employee. This sets the tone for the meeting and helps you get to know your direct report more personally. You might choose to ask them about their weekend, an upcoming vacation, or even a passion project outside of work – anything that gets them to open up and feel more at ease before you dive into the rest of your meeting.

2. Review your shared agenda

1-on-1 meetings aim to be mutually beneficial to both you and your employees. Creating a shared agenda allows employees to take joint ownership of the meeting and ensure they get what they need from your conversations.

Some businesses use a one-on-one meeting solution, like Culture Amp 1-on-1 meetings, to create and store shared agendas, but a Google Doc or email can work too. Just be sure to drop your items into the agenda (and remind your employee to do the same) ahead of time so you can jump right in during your meeting.

3. Ask questions

Once you’ve addressed everything on your joint agenda, ask your employee any lingering questions you may have. This could be anything from how they feel to requesting more detailed updates on their current projects.

Here are a few examples of things you might want to ask, but feel free to check out our list of great one-on-one meeting questions for even more ideas:

  • What part of your job energizes you?
  • What two or three new skills would you like to learn on the job?
  • Do you have any feedback for me?
  • What do you find most helpful/least valuable about our 1-on-1s?
  • Is there anything we didn’t cover today that you’d like to discuss next time?

4. Capture meeting points and agreed-upon actions

While 1-on-1s are often fairly quick meetings, you’ll be surprised by how much you can discuss in such a short amount of time. Take detailed notes during or immediately following your meeting to capture the breadth of your discussions and keep track of any action items that may have popped up during your conversation. Culture Amp 1-on-1s even has a section for shared notes so you can clearly outline the next steps and items to discuss in the future, helping hold both you and your employee accountable.

Best practices for leading effective one-on-one meetings

A few things to keep in mind when conducting your next 1-on-1:

  1. Determine your meeting cadence
    Every employee is different. Some flourish under a high-touch management style, while others prefer to work autonomously. At the beginning of a new employee-manager relationship, sit down with your direct report and discuss what meeting cadence they find most helpful.

    While most employees and managers meet weekly, some might prefer to meet more or less frequently based on their role or personal needs. You’ll also want to discuss meeting duration and what day of the week you’ll meet, so you can ensure your employees feel adequately prepared for and not rushed during your discussions.
  2. Come prepared
    In order to get the most out of your time together, both employees and managers must prepare for these meetings ahead of time. Both parties need to contribute to the shared agenda and come prepared with updates, feedback, praise, and even questions.

    Meeting one-on-one is a core component of the employee-manager relationship. Chronic rescheduling, tardiness, and distractedness send strong signs to your employees that you don’t care about them, their work, or their time. You can avoid those and other common one-on-one pitfalls by being punctual and present for your discussions.
  3. Cover the right topics
    Many managers use one-on-one meetings solely to run through an employee’s to-do list. That’s not a good use of anyone’s time.

    As mentioned earlier, 1-on-1’s are the perfect time to discuss personal and professional challenges and growth opportunities, give and receive feedback, share blockers, brainstorm solutions, and more. Go beyond status updates to build stronger relationships with your employees and support them in the unique ways they need.
  4. Follow through
    Odds are your one-on-ones will result in a few tasks for you as a manager. These could include helping remove a roadblock, checking a policy, asking HR questions, troubleshooting a software issue, or dealing with a difficult scenario. Whatever the takeaways, be sure to take swift action on whatever you promise to do.

    Why? If you fail to act when your employees voice concerns, you risk losing their trust and damaging your relationship. This might mean they’re less willing to be vulnerable with you or ask for help in the future. Take their questions and concerns seriously, follow up on progress, or share updates in your next weekly meeting.

Using Culture Amp for your next 1-on-1 meeting

Culture Amp’s 1-on-1 conversations tool mirrors the one-on-one meeting template we shared above. The tool is built to drive performance, productivity, and engagement by helping managers and employees talk honestly about things that impact their work.

To promote these healthy and effective conversations, the Culture Amp 1-on-1 conversations tool includes:

  • A shared agenda that encourages employee-manager collaboration as well as employee self-reflection
  • A predefined check-in to promote deeper discussion on items that impact the employee’s experience at work
  • Targeted questions to help focus the meeting on productivity blockers, not status updates
  • Shared notes for clear next steps and items to discuss in the future

While these features are designed to simplify your job, that's not their only benefit. They also help make joint meeting ownership more seamless, encourage employees to self-reflect, empower you to be a better coach, and allow you to have real (and sometimes difficult) conversations. These features reveal what’s beneath the surface, letting you go beyond status updates to unearth the deeper topics and insights you need to be an effective leader.

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