How to make effective one-on-one meetings : tips for managers

Everything has to evolve and the same applies to the way you coach your employees. You’ve probably heard about one-on-one meetings, those frequent individual sessions during which managers coach their employees. This practice is commonly used in innovative companies and is highly successful. Let’s take Facebook, Netflix or Google as examples. They’re all running frequent one-on-one with their employees. But besides those examples, this practice can be applied to pretty much any company willing to put their employees at the heart of their growth strategy.

How to implement one-on-one meetings and for which benefit ?

Let’s find out !

Why 1-on-1s are crucial to engage your employees ?

Running one on one meetings requires time. And time is money. But an employee who feels and knows that he’s listened to, who understands his goals and is thriving at work, that’s priceless. Tons of articles have been written on the subject: Working with engaged employees is a promise of productivity and performance. Building a team of skillful collaborators isn’t enough. Understanding, knowing and coaching each of your collaborators is crucial to engage and motivate them on the long term.

Running 1-on-1’s will let you know in depth your employees and therefore, find out what are their motivations, their strengths, what is blocking them and what you can do, as a manager, to improve their well-being.

How often should I run one on ones ?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Facebook managers run 30-minute-sessions every week with every single one of their employees. It doesn’t mean that you that you should do exactly the same. The best frequency is the one answering the needs of your collaborators. Without falling into clichés, your last gen-Y, freshly onboarded, new collaborator might require more attention than the 45-year-old employee doing the same job for 20 years. Okay, that was a cliché.

My point is, as a manager, you’ll need to get to know your team and adjust your frequency accordingly.

Prepare your meetings

In order to run effective one-on-one meetings, you’ll need some preparation first. Without this necessary step, you sessions can end up counter-productive. Structure is key to optimize your coaching meetings.

Ideally, both employee and manager should have the opportunity to define the topics of the session. To do so, managers should prepare a few questions for their teammates. The team should receive the questions before the one-on-one so that everyone can be prepared and can think about the topics that will be covered.

However, do not ask the same questions all the time. It will be perceived as spam and your collaborators will quickly stop answering it. Diversification of the topics and the questions asked will be appreciated.

What do I talk about ?

A one-on-one is everything except an annual performance review. You need to distinguish both exercices. The performance review is an assessment whereas a one on one helps you to understand, coach and get to know your collaborators so they can reach their full potential. 1-on-1 are first and foremost a moment of constructive exchange to make both interlocutors grow. It’s also the perfect moment to give feedback, positive or not, as long as it is constructive.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of topics to cover :

  • Start by acknowledging the work accomplished by your colleague.
  • Ask for his/her feeling about the company’s mission.
  • How does he/she feel about his/her objectives ?
  • Ask for feedback, as a manger.
  • What is going right and wrong and what can you do, as a manager, to improve your collaborator’s well being ?

Many studies show that recognition is one of the strongest indicators of employees engagement. Therefore, do not hesitate to congratulate your employees when their efforts pay off !

Take notes

You need to keep a trace of your exchange. Writing something down shows to your interlocutor that what they say matters.  Wrap up your session then centralize all your notes at the same place, it will help you to know what was discussed the last time and you’ll be able to diversify the topics covered.

Set up an action plan

At the end of the session, you need to suggest an action plan to your employee. By doing so, your feedback will become actionable and you’ll be able to acknowledge your collaborator’s progression at the next meeting. Ideally, you should connect your sessions to each other to create a thread of continuity.


  • Define the correct frequency and stick to it,
  • Prepare your sessions,
  • Appreciate your colleagues’ accomplishments,
  • Take notes,
  • Make your feedback actionable.

You want to make the most of your one-on-ones ? Frizby makes it easy to organize and structure your sessions so your employees can reach their full potential. Sign up for a free trial here !

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