How To Make One-on-One Meetings More Meaningful as a Manager

Learn everything there is to know about hosting meaningful one-on-one meetings... so that your employees feel understood, empowered, and motivated. 💪🏻

The Meetingnotes Team
March 7, 2024

One-on-one meetings are one of the most important meeting types to be holding as a manager of a company. These meetings give you the opportunity to sit down with each of your employees and discuss important topics like job satisfaction, status updates, career growth, and constructive feedback. 

Without exclusive one on one time, issues are more likely to be brushed aside or overlooked by your team members. Holding these meetings regularly will ensure that you truly understand how your employees are doing and what steps need to be taken to build stronger relationships.

While many managers can run a team meeting like no other, they may struggle to bring the same energy and impact on their individual employees. To help you prep and facilitate great one-on-ones, we will be discussing the following: 

Let’s get started. 

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What is the true purpose of a one on one meeting?

A one to one meeting is a recurring calendar event that managers use to keep track of their individual employees. 

Setting time aside in your work week to meet with each team member is crucial because this allows you to dive into more detailed conversations. For instance, some tactical issues might not be brought up in an all-hands meeting, but could be useful to talk about in a more private setting. 

The true purpose of one-on-ones lies within the intersection of relationship building and progress checking. Here are a few reasons as to why you should start incorporating more one-on-one meetings with your team: 

  • They provide a safe space for questions
  • You can regularly check in on goals and key metrics 
  • They help you build stronger relationships

Let’s break these down a little further. 

Provide a safe space for questions 

One of the main reasons to host one-on-one meetings is because they provide your employees with a safe space to ask open ended questions and exchange feedback

While you and your employee have a working relationship, it is important to bond with them as humans without fancy hierarchical titles. A one on one meeting helps to facilitate the exchange of positive and negative feedback. No matter who you are, receiving constructive feedback is necessary in order to witness major growth. 

Whether your meeting is online through video chat or face to face, you want your conversation to be honest and inviting. By allowing your team members to talk to you about whatever is on their mind, you’ll be able to create a welcoming work environment where they are comfortable opening up to you. 

Check in on goals and key metrics

Reviewing company goals and key metrics on an individual basis is important for several reasons. 

Firstly, goal setting helps to keep your team engaged, motivated, and results-oriented. Without any professional goals, your employees will most likely fall behind and be less productive during their work week. Frequent check-ins are necessary to keep a company on track to meet their goals, so conducting one-on-ones should most definitely be a priority to you. 

Because you need to evaluate project objectives and key results, this may be a good time to conduct a performance review. By following up on these key performance indicators, you will be able to make any necessary adjustments according to your results. 

By using this meeting to review these goals, you are also able to set expectations for the future of the project, giving your employees an idea of what they are expected to achieve. 

Build strong relationships with employees 

It’s very common for employees to separate their professional and personal life, as work-related relationships tend to be disguised by corporate facades. However, if you’re looking to generate more productivity and boost company morale, it’s crucial that you aim to build stronger relationships with those that work for you. 

Similar to how a relationship with a friend develops, bonding in a work environment cannot happen overnight. They need to happen often in order to foster personalized discussions and comfortability. One-on-one meetings are the perfect way to build trust with your team members, as they can help you understand your employees on a more personal level. 

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What are the benefits of holding one-on-one meetings?

As a manager, it can feel time consuming and overwhelming to speak to each one of your employees individually. However, the return on investment makes one-on-ones worth every second of your time. Here are some of the many benefits that you can expect from hosting meaningful one-on-one meetings:

  • Build trust with your team members: The more one-on-ones you host with your team, the more you’ll be able to get to know each team member on a personal level. This can facilitate more open communication as your employees grow more comfortable with speaking to you. 
  • Discover issues early on: One of the greatest advantages of a one-on-one meeting is that you are able to pinpoint and address issues very early on. Rather than coming across performance issues later in the process, dealing with those pressing issues beforehand is necessary to ensure that nothing is being overlooked. 
  • Sharpen your professional development coaching skills: As a manager, it’s critical that you hone in on your leadership skills and coach your employees. Not only is this expected of you, but it is imperative to the growth and development of the team you’re leading. One-on-one meetings provide you the unique opportunity to help your team members advance professionally in their careers. 
  • Improve employee engagement and productivity: Ultimately, hosting frequent one-on-ones will make your employees more comfortable speaking to you and to one another. The more you host them, the more aligned your team will be with their work expectations, goals, and progress, leading to an increase in productive conversations and engagement in the workplace. 
  • Make connections to your company’s mission: It’s very easy for daily tasks to feel detached from the purpose and mission statement of your organization. Thus, by hosting individual meetings with your employees, you’ll be able to reiterate major values that your company stands for. In fact, teams that have regular one-on-one meetings are three times more likely to be engaged


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Essential tips to make one-on-one meetings more meaningful 

Now that you’re aware of the many benefits that come with hosting individual meetings, it’s time to go over a few tips to make them more meaningful. As much as employee performance depends on levels of motivation in the office, it’s also associated with the impactfulness of the meeting itself.

Here are a few ways to make your one-on-one meetings one to remember:

  • Set a recurring schedule
  • Be prepared
  • Listen actively
  • Be open minded
  • Dive deeper into personal topics

Let’s break these down further.

Set a recurring meeting

For one-on-one meetings to be most effective, it’s important to conduct them on a regular basis. To do this, remember to set a recurring meeting time with each of your team members. Whether this happens every single week or through bi weekly meetings, showing commitment to make time for your employees will truly go a long way. 

Be prepared

Once you’ve decided on how often you’ll be setting time aside to speak with your team, you want to prepare. 

If you’re unsure about what topics to cover in your one-on-one meeting, there are many online tools to integrate into your project management process With  our meeting notes, calendar, daily tasks, and additional work software all in one place.

One of the most important productivity tools is the meeting agenda. By creating a meeting agenda in advance, you will be able to review input from your attendees and ensure that they are just as prepared as you when joining the discussion. When it comes to agenda items, one-on-ones cover a multitude of topics. So, within your plan, remember to include a few conversation starters, talking points, status updates, key topics, and action items. 

Listen actively 

In a one-on-one conversation, it’s particularly important to practice active listening. In a large meeting, it is common for many participants to zone out and stop paying attention. However, this meeting type is a two way street. 

As the company manager, you are responsible for knowing and understanding the obstacles and progression of your workers. Remember to not only hear, but listen to the ideas that your employees bring to the table. The more you practice active listening, the more you will be respected for showing recognition to others’ work experiences. 

Be open minded

Practice facilitating open communication with your team members by accepting constructive feedback. Just because you are in a higher position than those around you, doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. By being open minded to the opinions and values of those around you, you will be well equipped to lead the team more effectively. 

You might want to consider sending out a leadership review form for your employees to fill out once you’ve hosted enough one-on-one meetings. By collecting more feedback from those meetings, you’ll be able to incorporate changes into your management style that benefit the rest of the team. 

Dive deeper into personal topics

While it may be daunting to build deep connections with each of your employees, sharing personal experiences is an important skill to practice during one to ones. Utilize open ended questions, anecdotes, and day to day work to talk more casually and make your attendee feel comfortable. 

By getting personal with your employees, you will provide them the encouragement to open up and be as transparent as possible about company initiatives. When employees are able to comfortably share uncertainties and problems that they’re facing in the office, you are giving them space for major career growth and development. 

Boost company morale by hosting meaningful one on ones

No workplace is complete without career development, and hosting effective one-on-one meetings is the best way to coach your employees organically. Not only do these private discussions help prevent obstacles from popping up without notice, but they also allow you to build strong relationships and empower your team.

One-on-one meetings provide an open space for team members to discuss challenges, offer status updates, and problem solve without the help of other individuals. All of your dedicated time will show through as your team members improve communication, provide feedback, and brainstorm potential solutions for issues within the team. 

You will definitely notice a shift in your team, because they will start to take more responsibility for the tasks they need to complete. Overall, one-on-ones improve your team’s psychological safety, productivity, and performance, making your job to manage them that much easier.

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