The Essential 1:1 Guide: Benefits, Tips and Agenda Questions

The Mesh Team
Published on 
Apr 27, 2023
Meetings not going as well as you planned? Read this short blog to get some amazing tips on one-on-one meetings.

The concept of one on one meetings is as old as time. They are personal & direct and are often the best way to understand your team members and equally important, help them understand what you expect of them. They are also extremely effective if done right, companies that have a regular feedback mechanism see a 14.9% reduction in attrition rates. The same blog on HubSpot also indicates that 4 out of 10 members in a company become disengaged when there is no active feedback.

Having said that, they aren’t necessarily everyone’s favorite thing to do, especially when these meetings are about performance reviews. LinkedIn claims that 80% of Gen Y workers prefer recognition then and there, not in a one on one meeting.

Does that mean one on one meetings should stop? The answer is a little tricky. No, they should not be stopped entirely, however they do need a new approach. What should be stopped is clubbing an entire year’s worth of feedback into a single one on one meeting.

This has to be replaced with continuous feedback, and there has to be a mix of formal and informal feedback mechanisms.  

Before we delve into how these ‘meetings’ should be approached, let’s look at why we should have one on one meetings to share feedback.

Benefits of 1:1 meetings

If done right, one-on-one meetings can be a great source of feedback and can help to truly inspire an employee. Let’s look at the various benefits of one on one meetings:

1. Better relationships

Everyone needs to be recognized, it is human nature. Letting the members of your team know that you see their efforts, and you appreciate them is a great way to build bonds. Meetings are a great opportunity to connect and build real trust.

2. Improved output

Conducting regular one-on-one meetings, as often as weekly, ensures that you don’t take up a lot of time but still touch base on important aspects of a worker’s job. This ensures that your team is regularly updated about what you expect from them and vice versa.

3. Organization-wide improvements

Once one-on-one meetings become a culture in your office, regular feedback becomes a way of life. Your team gets the opportunity to tell you about issues they are facing, and you get to give them specific pointers that they need to address.  

4. They are personal

One-on-one meetings are intimate conversations, where two people get to connect and understand each other. Once you’ve broken the ice and gotten to know your people, you get the chance to talk to them about things that are important to you, and they get to share things that are important to them.

5. Goal Setting

Regular one-on-one meetings allow you to check in with your team about their goal progress. Instead of waiting for the annual review, you can implement a more agile system, one that allows you to set goals and OKRs based on direct feedback and not assumptions.  

How should you approach your 1:1 meeting?

Let’s look at this question from two perspectives, from the view of a manager and employee:

As a manager:

  • Make sure you help your employee feel comfortable. Keep the tone relaxed and casual. You don’t have to always be an authority figure. Be a friend, a trusted colleague they can open up to.
  • Let your employee know what the meeting is about, so they come prepared and set expectations.
  • Create a safe space and let your employee know that anything that is talked about in the room can be kept confidential.
  • Be prepared to listen first, put the ball in their court so that they tell you what they think the issues are or what they are doing great.

As an employee:

  • Take it easy, it’s just another person who wants to have a conversation with you. Walk into the meeting smiling and with an open mind.
  • Prepare for the meeting, even if your boss is an awesome guy, you are expected to behave like a professional. Lay out the action items for your managers, this sort of proactive behavior gets noticed.
  • Be prepared to improve. Ask questions about how you can improve, what they expect of you and be proactive in asking about your progress compared to the last meeting.
  • Be prepared to listen. Try and listen to everything they have to say before asking your questions. Note down talking points, so you don’t forget any questions.  Learn everything you can from your manager, including their management style, you could be in their shoes soon, and it helps to have varying perspectives.

How to have an effective 1:1 meeting

One-on-ones have to be effective, if they aren’t, the fact is that you are just wasting your time and someone else’s. Here are a few top tips to help ensure your one on one meetings are effective.

1. Focus on constructive feedback

Whether you’re dishing out negative reviews or letting employees know they’ve done well, give them information they can use to get better. Your meeting must have a positive result.

2. Set the agenda

No matter how busy you are, let your employee know what the meeting is about. Use meeting notes to stay on track and save as much time as possible. The longer your employee is sitting in your office, the less they are working.  

3. Throw out formal meetings

Careful here, you don’t want to wear shorts to a meeting, but make sure that you keep it casual and relaxed. Talk to your employees like they are real people and not just human capital.

4. Conduct bi-weekly meetings

This is a great way to get regular status updates. You will always know what your team is up to and what they need from you.

5. Talk about things that interest your employees

Talk about career progression, talk about their growth, and let them know you care about them too.

6. Give feedback

Remember you aren’t calling them in to tell them what they did wrong. You need to let them know what you want and how they can achieve it. Let them know how they’ve improved since you last talked.

7. Ask for feedback

Don’t just focus on performance review questions. Ask how happy they are, ask if they like your management style. Asking for feedback helps employees open up and also improves employee engagement.

8. M.O.M.

Send out minutes of the meeting once the meeting is done. Summarize what the meeting was about and make sure you are both on the same page. If you missed something in the meeting, you can always add notes to your emails.

1:1 meeting questions

Here are a few questions that are great for successful one-on-one meetings.

Questions that managers can ask:

  • Do you prefer face-to-face interactions or are you more comfortable with a call?
  • Are you happy with your career progression at our company so far?
  • I’ve noticed your performance has improved a lot. Can I pick your brain for some tips I can pass on to your colleagues?
  • The numbers aren’t looking so good, do you have any suggestions on how we can achieve them?
  • I’ve noticed your growth, would you like to work together on your long-term career goals?

Questions that employees can ask:

  • I’ve been tracking my progress, I’m falling short of one or two goals; do you have any tips for me?
  • I really enjoy working here. Would you be willing to give me some guidance when you have a little time?
  • I don’t think the current approach is working. Would you be open to discussing some ideas I have?
  • I like these weekly reviews, but is there a better way to track my performance in real-time?

There are a great many ways to connect with your team. One on one meetings are among the best ways to get direct feedback and provide it. There are several performance appraisal methods, but the right tool lets you take your own approach. Check how to make your 1:1 meetings easy and transparent with Mesh.

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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