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One on One

As a leader I have regular 1-1's with my team


What is your purpose for the 1-1? What do you want to accomplish? How will you know if you have been successful? The answers to these questions are crucial to setting a clear, measurable intention (hey you fail to plan you plan to fail). You also need to answer the following questions: What does my team member want to accomplish? How would they describe their purpose for the 1-1? and if you don't know, why not ask - that way your 1-1s will be a mutually beneficial use of time.

I always set the expectation that the 1-1 is the employees time to get my full and undivided attention - that it is them driving their agenda toward their goals.

Live action shot of a 1-1 in my office
Frequency / Duration

There is no right frequency or duration for 1-1's, they vary from person to person and role to role. Consider these dimensions:

How motivated is the employee? If their motivation is higher you can do 1-1 less frequently, lower motivation suggests meeting more often. How skilled / capable are they?

How new or tenured are they? again more tenured, more skilled and you can check in with less frequently. A new hire, perhaps twice a week in their first 2 or 3 weeks to set and get feedback on goals and results. Then perhaps weekly. What new tasks or projects are on their plate that they may need to talk / think through?


Before the session I prepare by looking at my notes to review what commitments have been made / given in the previous 1-1. I jot a few notes of topic areas that I want to cover too.

To start the meeting I use the Michael Bungay Stanier question, "what's on your mind?". As a sales leader I would ask this and the rep would go straight to the biggest issue (contracting, stalled opportunities etc.) and we'd discuss from there. I'd also ask if there was anything else.

If they haven't included an update on the commitments from previous meetings then I ask for one.

Finally I share my agenda items.

Often 1-1's can be accomplished in under an hour but I always block 75 minutes to allow for over runs and taking of notes for myself

Follow up

At the end of the meeting I always ask them to summarize our discussion and to list the actions they and perhaps I would take - including timings. That drives accountability - we know who is responsible for what actions and by what time.

What other practices or insights would you share on how to run a 1-1?

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