Six tips to rock your one-on-ones

Quick, handy best practices to have effective, productive one-on-one meetings with your team


One-on-ones with employees are one of the most underrated tools for managers. If done properly, these meetings can be an incredibly effective way for managers to receive feedback, gauge employee satisfaction and productivity and even offer some insight into how team members are interacting and working together.

In fact, in a Watercooler AMA we hosted with Amir Salihefendic, Founder and CEO of Doist, he said that his biggest leadership lesson he wish he learned earlier was investing one-on-ones meetings. “We started to do one-on-ones very late,” admitted Amir. “I would even recommend them if you are a smaller company.”

Take it from Amir, first hand, and start investing more in your one-on-ones. Here are some tips to get the most out of your next one-on-one meeting…

Be present.

This means close your laptop. Turn the ringer off on your phone. Have a meaningful, purpose-driven conversation. We can all go 30 minutes away from email, text messages and phone calls to ensure a successful one-on-one meeting.

Be open.

This advice is for both parties, the manager and the employee. The employee, of course, has to be open to feedback from his or her manager on job performance, time management, conflict resolution and all those other topics we look to address during our one-on-ones. But, the manager also has to be open, as well. This time is just as much for the employee to offer feedback. What if that feedback is not 100 percent positive? Hint: See №5.

Be prepared.

This cannot be overstated. Being unprepared is not only a quick way to an ineffective meeting, but it also shows a blatant disregard for the other person’s time. Do everyone a favor and be as prepared for this meeting as you would be for your top client. Here are the eight best questions to ask during your one-on-one.

Be honest.

Didn’t we cover this in №2? Well, sort of. That was about receiving feedback. This one is about giving honest, constructive feedback. Has an employee ever turned to you during an annual evaluation and say that he or she was surprised by a deficiency you noted? Why wasn’t that in your one-on-ones? Your time is valuable. So is theirs. Use it wisely and honestly.

Receive feedback gracefully.

This is a topic I’ve tackled multiple times because it’s not always easy to do. Here are some more tips to mastering the art of receiving negative feedback in a productive manner.

Don’t leave empty-handed.

Did a conflict come up? If so, what are the action items to address the issue? Perhaps a new employee goal or a professional development opportunity surfaced — who is going to own this item to make sure it’s accomplished? It’s important to leave the meeting with clear expectations and action items so that both parties can be prepared for the next week (or two weeks, or however often you have them) to have another A+ one-on-one.


You may have noticed that I’ve been writing a bunch about one-on-ones lately… Well, I’m actually in the process of writing an in-depth guide to one-on-ones! If you’d like to get notified for when I publish the full guide , sign-up below and I’ll be sure to ping ya 👇

https://upscri.be/98d8ee/






P.S.: Please feel free to share + give this piece 👏 so others can find it too. Thanks 😄 (And you can always say hi at @cjlew23.)

Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Know Your Team. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work.

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