22. August 2018 Blog

Leadership: Decisive 1-on-1 meetings for your team

Leadership: manager-employee 1-on-1 meeting in a friendly spirit

Why 1-on-1 meetings? Because they are a great opportunity for feedback, coaching, building manager support and discussing anything relevant for you and your staff. They are also a perfect chance to strengthen the relation between managers and their employees.

In this blog post, we will look at meetings from the manager’s perspective. How to lead meetings, why they are important and what benefits they can bring. But stay tuned, we’ll cover some useful and essential tips for employees as well.

Why should you have regular 1-on-1 meetings?

There are a few key leadership behaviors  that will differentiate you from other managers. One of them are regularly scheduled 1-on-1 meetings with your employees. Maybe you thought that team meetings, brainstorming, conferences or occasional talks are key to success. Unfortunately, you couldn’t be more wrong – nothing beats 1-on1-meetings.

Here are 4 reasons why managers should have regular 1-on-1 meetings

  1. Regular 1-on-1s increase employee productivity, reliability and development.
  2. Leadership requires solid relationships. You need to understand the unique individual needs and goals of each of your team members.
  3. Employees are much more likely to share their ideas and feedback honestly with routine 1-on-1 meetings.
  4. It’s true that 1-on-1 meetings are time-consuming. However, a well-structured meeting will increase employee productivity and save you time in the long run.

Effective 1-on-1 meetings require preparation. The following tips will help engage and motivate your employees to be more efficient and satisfied in your team. And there’s something in on it for you, too – you’ll find out how well your team operates, what needs to be changed and what should stay the same.

How to organize a 1-on-1 meeting?

First of all, try to keep your 1-on-1s informal and friendly – this will allow your employees to speak more openly and feel more comfortable. You should also find the right place – use a meeting room, go for a walk or grab a coffee.

As the manager, you should take the lead at the meeting. However, this also depends on the employee – some people don’t need guidance because they can and want to talk freely. For each 1-on-1, prepare a set of questions and issues that are relevant for you and don’t be afraid to ask.

Be inspired.

1. Team collaboration and relations

You can boost team productivity and teamwork by improving interpersonal relationships amongst team members. Try to ask questions that will give you as much information as possible. For example:

  • Who inspires you in your team and why? Whose opinions do you respect?
  • Is there anyone in the team who is difficult to work with? Why?
  • Do you think you receive sufficient feedback? Do others give you feedback, too?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improvement in the way we work together?


2. Employee satisfaction and happiness 

Personal happiness has a clear impact on productivity and engagement in company processes. Use the opportunity that informal 1-on-1 conversation creates. For example, you could ask:

  • Are you happy with your work? Can you tell me why or why not?
  • What do you like most about your job?
  • What kind of projects do you enjoy working on? What motivates you to work on a project?

3. Leadership – Short-term goals

Find out your employees’ short-term goals and stay informed about their progress or frustrations. Frustration needs to be addressed in time. Try the following questions:

  • How’s the project going? Can we do anything to help?
  • Are there any obstacles in the project? What can be done to remove them?
  • What projects would you be interested in working on next?

4. Leadership – Long-term goals

Long-term goals are important in terms of fulfillment and happiness. Your employees want to make progress toward their goals thanks to their work. Ask them about their ambitions and find out whether their job fits into their concept. For example:

  • What would you like to achieve in the company?
  • Are you successful in achieving your goals?
  • Which part of your work is most relevant to your goals?
  • What projects would you like to be involved in to move in the right direction?

5. Personal development plan

Would you like to know whether your team members learn and develop their skills as you would like them to? These questions will help you learn more about their motivation:

  • Do you feel like you are learning new things? What have you learnt lately? What areas would you like to know more about?
  • Who in the team would you like to learn from? Who gives you relevant and valuable feedback?
  • Is feedback helpful for your personal development?
  • What area would you like to work on?

6. Feedback on management

Managers should care about what their teams think about them and their management style. It’s difficult to get honest feedback, especially in person. Try to set the right tone and choose your questions wisely, for example:

  • What can I do as a manager to help you work better?
  • What do you like about my leadership style? What do you dislike?
  • Would you like me to help you with your tasks and projects?
  • How can I support you better?
  • Is there anything I could do better?
  • Can you think of a situation where I could have been more helpful?

At the end of each 1-on-1 meeting, suggest steps to be taken in the upcoming weeks. Without action, there’s no reaction and no progress. Without progress, there’s no change. And if nothing changes, professional and personal needs of your employees will remain unfulfilled, which can lead to frustration – and that’s something every manager and employee wants to avoid.

And finally – the most important thing is to listen. It’s essential that your employees feel heard and have the motivation to make progress.