Best Practices for Running Effective One-on-One Meetings

The Mesh Team
Published on 
Apr 27, 2023
Here is everything that you as a manager should know about executing effective one-on-one meetings with your employees for their overall growth and development.

One-on-one meetings have the potential to become one of the most productive and vital meetings a manager can have with their employees, if executed well. This article will tell you how to gain the most from a one-on-one meeting with employees to benefit your team members and the whole organization.

What are one-on-one meetings?

One-on-one meetings are regular meetings between managers and their team members. These meetings allow the managers to know and understand the employee well. They talk about how the employee feels in their current role and overall work experience. The talking points go beyond work duties. These meetings give an opportunity to the managers to have access to unfiltered information from the employees and get valuable insights. One-on-ones, thus, have the capability to boost employee productivity and engagement and build stronger relationships.

Benefits of one-on-one meetings

The regular sit-downs can be valuable for both the manager and the employees. It is a form of performance review where the employee is made to feel comfortable and speak their mind. Here are some benefits that one-on-one meetings offer. They:

1. Strengthen relationships

Every employee wants to be acknowledged and feel a sense of belongingness. Regular check-ins between leaders and team members allow them to exchange their thoughts and concerns and appreciate each other for their efforts. This brings them closer and builds trust.

2. Boost productivity

One-on-ones are productivity boosters, allowing for more open discussion on all issues. They even improve employee engagement, which leads to increased dedication and performance.

3. Develop leadership skills

One-on-one meetings also help the managers in their career development. These allow the managers to develop coaching and leadership skills. In addition, they learn to offer constructive feedback and guidance to their team. This makes them high-performing leaders.

4. Better alignment with organizational goals

One-on-one meetings offer an opportunity to understand an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. It provides status updates about the team members and how each contributes to the organizational goals. If an employee’s work seems disconnected, an effective action plan is drafted for them to contribute to the organization’s purpose.

5. Build team loyalty

Regular meetings and exchange of information bring transparency between the manager and their team members. These frequent, meaningful interactions solidify the team and motivate all members to work as a single unit.

Tips for one-on-one meetings

Many managers don’t understand how to structure a one-on-one meeting and have difficult conversations with their employees. However, if executed properly, these meetings can act as powerful tools for your organization's long-term growth and development.

Here are some tips to guide you through these meetings:

Before the meeting

  • Decide on a time collaboratively: Since one-on-one meetings are for the growth of the employee, a time that works best for both of you must be set. You should be ready to make a difficult conversation if the employee faces issues.
  • Schedule recurring meetings: Plan regular meetings with the employee for the whole calendar year so that this becomes a long-term thing.
  • Set an agenda: To have effective one-on-ones, set agenda items to be discussed in the meeting beforehand. A shared agenda must be prepared so that both the manager and the employee can participate in the meeting, and their concerns are addressed.
  • Add questions to your agenda: One-on-one meetings are the best place to ask difficult questions since the employee feels safe to give their opinion and talk about their problems. Add open-ended questions you want to discuss to your agenda.  
  • Give high priority to one-on-ones: Always treat these meetings as high-priority, and never cancel unless you have no other choice.

During the meeting

  • Be in the present: During the one-on-one interaction, try to be in the present moment and remove any distractions you might have. Try to forget about your pending tasks or a call you had to make. Always show up on time. This will make the employee feel valued and encourage them to take the meeting seriously.
  • Begin with a check-in: Start by telling the employee how you’re feeling and ask them the same. Create a comfortable and warm atmosphere where the employee feels appreciated and heard.
  • Less talking, more listening: Let the employee lead the conversation after asking your question. Actively listen to what they're saying and try to understand their mindset. Keep asking questions in between to get the most from them and make the discussion insightful. Let them share their ideas with you, and empathize with them to show that you care.
  • Talk about goals: Ask them about their personal goals and discuss organizational goals. See how they’re contributing to the organizational goals and assess their role in the organization.
  • Create action items: Set clear objectives and timelines for the employees to stay focused and achieve their personal and organizational goals.
  • Take meeting notes: To derive essential insights from the meeting, record your thoughts and the employee’s opinions to refer to later.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal communication: Non-verbal cues such as posture and tone are very important. Be mindful of your tone to make the employee feel comfortable. Try to connect with them and build a rapport to build trust.
  • End on a positive note: Show your support or encourage the employee in some way at the end of the meeting.

After the meeting

  • Revisit past meetings: Revisit the meeting notes of past meetings to know about the decisions made, discussed topics, and the next steps.
  • Ask for the employee’s feedback: Ask the employee about their outlook after every one-on-one meeting. Their feedback can help assess their engagement level and quickly identify any grievances they might have.
  • Follow up: The entire exercise of conducting one-on-one meetings is successful only when you follow up on the decisions made. Keep a track record of the progress the employees have made on the action items.

Dos and Don’ts of one-on-one meetings


1. Focus on them

Always remember that the meeting is about the employees. Not about the project or the status updates, but them. Understand their issues and let them lead the conversation.

2. Be prepared

Never take a one-on-one meeting without being prepared. Review the notes from the last meeting and plan agenda items to discuss in the meeting.

3. Listen well

Listen and understand the employee to gain the most from a one-on-one meeting. Ask them questions and get to the root of the problem.

4. Meet frequently

One-on-ones should be frequent meetings. Weekly or biweekly is the best.

5. Plan for the future

The purpose of a one-on-one meeting is to plan for the future. It should help in the career development of the employee and lead to a plan of action for them.

6. Push past the awkwardness

Make sure that you create a comfortable and safe environment for the employee where they can open up.


1. Forget they are humans

Managers should try to build rapport and earn the trust of their team members. Don’t treat your employees like robots and empathize with them.

2. Forget about what you discussed in the last meeting

Don’t treat each meeting as an isolated event. The outcomes and insights of the past meetings should also be considered.

3. Rush the meeting

Never be in a rush in a one-on-one meeting. This will make the employee uneasy, and the meeting will not be productive.

4. Forget to act

If you do not act on the meetings' discussions, no real progress will occur. Set clear and specific goals for employees and always follow up regularly after the meeting.

5. Cancel the meeting

Never cancel a one-on-one meeting, unless that's impossible. If something urgent comes up, reschedule the meeting and apologize.

Final thoughts

A manager can make their team great and highly productive with the help of the one-on-one meeting best practices mentioned above. A little planning, a systematic approach, and some preparation are all it takes. It gives you access to exact information and the honest opinion of employees to make informed and timely decisions.

If you need further guidance to make your one-on-ones more impactful and productive, request a demo and reach out to Mesh. It is a one-stop platform to take care of all your employee performance and engagement needs. So, get in touch with the Mesh team today!




About the Author

The Mesh Team is a diverse group of passionate professionals at Mesh, dedicated to transforming the world of performance management. Together, we aim to provide you with valuable insights, strategies, and knowledge to empower your journey toward achieving exceptional performance in your organization.
The Mesh Team
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