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One-on-ones, also called 1–1s or 1 on 1s, are Meetings between a manager and a direct report.
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Intro to 1:1 MeetingsOne-on-one Meetings are a crucial part of building strong relationships between managers and employees. They provide an opportunity for feedback, Coaching, and Goal Setting.
- Structuring One on Ones to Maximize Your Team's SuccessTomasz explains how adding structure to 1:1 Meetings can take them from being mediocre to being great. He covers the framework used by the legendary CEO coach, Bill Campbell: the manager and direct report should each compile a list of their perceived top-5 priorities before the meeting, and review those at the beginning of the meeting. After that, they can cover four standard meeting topics.
Common One-On-One Meetings Challenges
These are common challenges people face when gaining expertise in one-on-one meetings. Tackling these challenges head-on can help you learn this skill quicker.Find the right balance of providing guidance and support with allowing the other person to drive the conversationWe focus too much on tasks and projects rather than big picture thinkingI'm not sure of the best way to use my 1-1 timeI need a better structure for my 1-1sI tend to jump to problem solving right away instead of listening and asking open-ended questionsAdd your own to track your progress and inspire others
Industry-Standard Expectations for One-On-One Meetings
These are performance expectations for one-on-one meetings at different competency levels. Understanding these expectations can help you measure your own proficiency and orient your growth.AwareRecognize the importance of one-on-one meetings. Eager to learn the basics and apply best practices in the workplace.NoviceBe prepared for 1-1 meetings by setting an agenda and having relevant materials ready. Listen actively and provide feedback in a constructive and respectful manner.IntermediateEstablish clear goals and expectations for the 1-1 meeting with team members. Provide feedback and coaching that is specific, actionable, and supportive.AdvancedUse 1-1 meetings to build strong relationships with team members and identify their strengths and areas for development. Collaborate with team members to set challenging yet achievable goals and provide support to achieve them.InnovatorUse 1-1 meetings to align individual and team goals with organizational goals and strategies. Coach team members to take ownership of their professional growth and development.Want to know what proficiency level you’re at?Our AI will ask you how you’ve used this skill in the past and then give you a rating and a personalized learning plan.
Types of 1:1 MeetingsThere are different types of one-on-one Meetings, including Performance Reviews, Career Development Meetings, and check-ins. Each type serves a specific purpose and should be approached differently.
- One-on-ones are my most valuable meetings; here’s how I run themFront, which as an employee NPS of 97, structures three different types of 1:1s: standard 1:1s every week; higher-level pulse checks every month; and Career Development 1:1s every six months.
- The 1–1 ZooRushabh provides an overview of different types of 1:1s: the "No Agenda Chill", the "Everything Is On Fire", the "That Team (or Person) is Terrible", the "It’s Urgent", the "Feedback Hour", the "Promote Me", and the "I Quit".
- Questions for Our First 1:1Lara provides with sections and question for what to cover in your first 1:1 with a new direct report. She covers topics such as Grumpiness, Feedback & Recognition, and Goals and Support.
What to Cover in 1:1 MeetingsOne-on-one Meetings should cover a range of topics, including progress on goals, feedback on performance, and personal development. It's important to create an agenda and set expectations to make the most of the time.
- GitLab's Internal Manual for 1:1sGitLab's internal manual for 1:1s includes a 30 minute training video and covers 12 tips on how to conduct them. This manual also includes a training video on how to do career mapping, and steps on how transition 1:1s between managers.
- My Approach to 1-on-1sMarco goes through about 20 different prompts across five categories that he uses in 1:1 Meetings. The five categories are: • How are you doing? • I've got some feedback for you. • Let's talk about what's happening around the org. • Let's talk about your career path. • Let me tell you my thoughts on the direction of the team.
- The Art of the Awkward 1:1Mark provides advice on how to push through the surface layer of Status Updates and create a safe space to discuss the awkward stuff that really matters, with examples of awkward content such as "extra honest feedback" and "humble advice seeking".
- One-on-ones are the foundation of equitable leadershipAmy begins by asking, if you're using 1:1s for Status Updates, why isn't your Project Management tooling covering that so that you can spend 1:1 time on other topics? Instead, she recommends covering: • Overall sentiment • Team member's topics • Growth and development • Giving Feedback • Asking for feedback • Self-care • Leaving space She also recommends asking yourself these questions as a manager: If you're a leader reading this, my challenge for you today is to mull over these questions, and seek out the answers if you don't know: • How much of my time is spent being reactive instead of proactive? • Do I have a plan for how I can help set each of my employees up for success? • If members of my team were to resign today, what would reason(s) would they cite?
Challenging 1:1sChallenging one-on-one Meetings, such as those involving difficult conversations or underperforming employees, require a different approach. Managers should prepare, be empathetic, and focus on solutions rather than blame.
- How to manage your report’s unrealistic expectationsKatie describes an experience where the 1:1s with a direct report became toxic over time. She recommends a 4-step solution to prevent this in the future: 1. Set expectations during recruitment 2. Set expectations during onboarding 3. Set boundaries and be firm about acceptable behavior 4. Teach ‘disagree and commit’.
Common One-On-One Meetings Wins
Here are common milestones and achievements that people reach when learning one-on-one meetings. You can use them as inspiration to reach your own goals.Our 1-1 structure really helps my team members come prepared to drive the conversationI've been able to use my 1-1 time to advocate for more resources for the teamI think I've struck the right balance between digging into details and zooming out to big picture strategyI always leave my 1-1s more energized and motivated than I was before the meetingAdd your own to track your progress and inspire others
One-On-One Meetings is part of our Engineering Career Leveling Framework. Explore next steps in your career from this industry-standard model.