How to Run 1:1 Meetings: Tips, Questions and Agenda Template

Summary
Understand how to organize a 1-1 with your employees. Generate a 1-1 meeting agenda and ask the right questions. Bonus: understand how to get the most of your 1-1 meeting with your own manager.

What are the benefits of a 1:1 meeting?

One-on-one meetings, or 1:1s, are an essential part of effective team management. These meetings provide a space for team members to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas with their manager in a private setting. They also give managers an opportunity to provide feedback, delegate, and support to their team members. However, many managers struggle to run 1:1s that are productive and engaging for both parties.
In this article, we will explore how to prepare for, conduct, and follow up on 1:1 meetings that your team will love.

How to prepare for a 1:1 meeting

Preparation is key to running successful 1:1 meetings. Before each meeting, take the time to review the agenda and any relevant documents or materials. This will ensure that you are well-informed and able to provide thoughtful and relevant feedback to your team member.
Another important aspect of preparation is setting clear expectations for the meeting. Make sure your team member knows what to expect and what you hope to achieve during the meeting. This could be as simple as sending an email or message beforehand with a reminder of the meeting and a brief overview of the agenda.

What to talk about in a 1:1 meeting: sample agenda

1:1 meetings are an opportunity for team members to share their thoughts and concerns with their manager, but it's important to have a clear agenda and stay focused on the most important topics. Some possible topics to discuss include:
  • Progress on current projects: This is a great opportunity for team members to share updates on their work and for managers to provide feedback and guidance.
  • Career development: 1:1s are a good time to discuss career goals and aspirations and to provide support and resources to help team members achieve their goals.
  • Personal development: 1:1s can also be used to discuss personal development plans, such as professional training or education opportunities.
  • General feedback: Use this time to provide constructive feedback on the team member’s work and performance, and to discuss any areas where they may need support or improvement.
It's also important to allow time for team members to raise any issues or concerns they may have. Encourage open and honest communication by creating a safe space for team members to speak freely.

Good questions to ask in a 1:1 meeting

Asking the right questions is key to making 1:1 meetings productive and engaging. Here are a few good questions to ask during a 1:1 meeting:
  • How are things going? This is a great way to start the meeting and to get a sense of how your team member is feeling. It’s intentionally vague designed to give your employee an opportunity to set the tone and first subject to discuss. Don’t be surprised if you get a “fine” or “good” without much more. It’s your job to create a safe space and dig in a bit more.
  • What are you working on? This will help you stay informed about your team member's current projects and priorities. It’s a great opportunity to see if their priorities are aligned with yours and your organization’s priorities. 
  • What are your thoughts on [specific project or topic]? This allows team members to share their thoughts and ideas on specific topics. Asking for their opinion, even when they’re not directly involved in the project, demonstrates your interest in their perspective. You’ll also likely get a fresh perspective that can inform other projects.
  • How can I support you better? This shows that you are invested in your team member's success and are willing to help in any way you can. Employees might not immediately want to give their manager direction so have examples of certain things you can do.

1-on-1 meeting agenda template

An agenda is a useful tool to help ensure that 1:1 meetings stay on track and that all important topics are covered. Here is a simple 1:1 meeting agenda template that you can use:
  • Small talk to break the ice (5 minutes)
  • Progress on current projects (10 minutes)
  • Career development (5 minutes)
  • Personal development (5 minutes)
  • General feedback (5 minutes)
  • Issues or concerns (10 minutes)
  • Action items and next steps (5 minutes)
  • Wrap-up and closing (5 minutes)
It's important to note that this template is just a starting point and can be adjusted to fit the specific needs of your team and the individuals you are meeting with. Some team members may require more time for career development, while others may have more pressing concerns to discuss. Be flexible and adjust the agenda as needed to make the most of the time you have together.
1:1 meetings are an important part of effective team management. By preparing well, staying focused on important topics, asking good questions, and using a clear agenda, you can create 1:1 meetings that are productive, engaging, and beneficial for both you and your team members. Remember that these meetings are an opportunity to build trust, provide support, and foster open communication, so make the most of the time you have together.
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