Have you always wondered what to say or if there’s a better way to conduct your one-on-ones? Here are 6 ways you can improve your next one-on-one.

1. The one-on-one you’re having with your direct report is about them not you. So I don’t usually go in with a list of todos for them. If I do really have a list of tasks for them, that could be a separate meeting. The one-on-one is really about them, how they’re doing, and what they would like to talk about.

2. One-on-ones are not status meetings. I usually would have status meetings like check-in meetings with the team that is separate from a one-on-one. We should then leave the meeting knowing the status of the project or feature with a clear understanding as a team. I don’t recommend using one-on-ones to talk about project statuses because it can be really disengaging for your direct reports to feel that all the conversations with you are about the project and not about how they are doing.

3. What do they want to talk about? I’ll sit in on a one on one and usually the first thing I ask them is “What’s on your mind to ensure we talk about today?” Some folks would come with a list of things to talk about. Some may just want to talk out loud what’s on their mind. Some just want to feel heard.

4. Follow up with previous one-on-one. At the end of one-on-ones, I’d like to follow up with things that were discussed in the previous one-on-one. There might be things that were mentioned the previous week that is worth following up on.

5. If I have any feedback, I’ll use this session to provide any feedback that I’ve heard or personally observed. I’ll also ask for feedback on anything the management team had done lately, for example, a recent survey we had put out, a recent announcement or initiative.

6. Coaching or Problem solving. I like my one-on-ones to be a little more customized to the individual versus it being a cookie-cutter session for everyone as I’ve found that to be most enjoyable and most effective. A few people would come to our one-on-one with an issue they’re struggling with. Sometimes those issues need coaching, sometimes those issues need mentoring.

Which one resonates with you the most? Which one would you try?



Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash