How to get the best of one-to-one meetings?

May 24, 2023

Author: Daniel Josรฉ da Silva

Tow people discussing one-to-one

We have been doing one-to-one our whole life often without recognizing it, in short it is just "sit down" with someone and have a conversation. I am pretty sure that you already had at least one of the following: a one-to-one with your parent (Mom says: Sit down let's have a chat!), a one-to-one with your best friend (Best friend says: Can we talk privately?), a one-to-one with your teacher (Teaches says after the bells go on: Can I talk with you for a minute?).

Yet before we start, we have to understand what one-to-one means when you are working for a corporation and that is the focus of this writing.

What is a one-to-one meeting?

This a a quote from Andrew Grove former Intel CEO that represents the essence of one-to-one in a corporate setting:

One-to-one is a mutual teaching exchange of information. By talking about specific problems and situations, the supervisor teaches the subordinate his skills and know-how, and suggest ways to approach things. At the same time, the subordinate provides the supervisor with detailed information about what he is doing and what he is concerned about.

A key point about one-to-one: It should be regarded as the subordinate's meeting, with its agenda and tone set by him... The supervisor is there to learn and coach.

Benefits of one-to-ones?

  • Improve Morale => let the team members know that you appreciate the work they do and build trust.

  • Increased productivity => help the team members understand how their work relates to the company goals and guide them to perform tasks more effectivelly.

  • Better employee relationship => connect with your team members in a more personal aspect.

  • Two way feedback => give and receive feedback.

Tips for one-to-one

Here are some tips on how get the best of one-to-one meetings

1 - Preparing for the one-to-one

  • Employee: ๐Ÿ—’๏ธ Create a shared agenda. Before the meeting make sure that you have an agenda with all the items that you would like to talk with your manager. Here are some examples: Career growth (Where you are and where you want to be?), current work (How is your current workload? Are you underutilized? Is the work pleasant?), process improvements (Can anything be improved?), inspirations from inside and outside of the company, concerns (Is there anything bothering you?).

  • โฐ Be present on time (show that you care about the one-to-one).

  • ๐Ÿ”• Turn off messages and email notifications.

  • ๐Ÿ“ต Put your phone away.

  • ๐Ÿ“… Be consistent with the one-to-one meetings. Set a cadence once a week or bi-weekly.

2 - During the one-to-one

  • Employee: ๐ŸŽค Speak up from heart, be honest, don't be afraid.

  • Employee: ๐Ÿš˜ Drive the conversation, follow your agenda.

  • Employee: โœ๏ธ Take notes.

  • Employee: ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ Donโ€™t be afraid to make an ask. Most managers are willing to anything to help you be successful - be specific in your ask and show how it helps you and your organization move forward.

  • Manager: ๐Ÿ‘‚๐ŸปListen more than you talk.

  • Manager: ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ Incentive engagement, they should talk from 50% to 90% of the talking in the meeting.

  • Manager: ๐ŸฆœListen actively without judment to fully understand before you talk.

  • Manager: ๐Ÿ”„ Add your perspective, give your honest and specific feedback.

3 - Wrapping up the one-to-one

  • Employee: ๐Ÿ“Œ Close the meeting clarifying take aways and action items for both parties.

  • Employee: ๐Ÿ“ Document any decision or action items. When you document it is more likely to get the decisions respected and the action items completed that also creates continuity between meetings allowing follow ups.


Every one-to-one interaction is an opportunity for growth, learning, and building relationships.

Happy one-to-one!!!


Book Measure What Matters chapter 15 Continuous Performance Management

Harvard Business Review: Make the most of your one-on-one


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