Performance Management

Transform your hiring with Charlie Recruit!

Say hello to better, faster, fairer hiring with our new recruitment software add-on. Find out more.

The best advice on how to run successful one-to-one meetings (with free meeting templates)

The best advice on how to run successful one-to-one meetings (with free meeting templates)

Many leaders credit regular one-to-one meetings with team members as one of the key drivers of work performance, but in practice, it doesn’t mean they run them frequently. 

Big mistake, if you ask me. This is because 1:1s create an environment where employees' needs, challenges and concerns can be addressed. 

It’s a great way for managers to build connections with their team members, and make sure they give them the help they need. The problem is always the same though: lack of time and structure always get in the way. 

In this post, I’ll share tips on how to conduct effective one-to-one meetings, along with downloadable templates to simplify the process.

What are one-to-one meetings?

One-to-one meetings are regular meetings held between two individuals who work for the same company (usually between a manager or supervisor and an employee). 

These meetings are used to:

  • discuss work
  • provide feedback
  • keep each other informed
  • handle any obstacles faced by employees

Depending on what works for both parties, 1:1 meetings are typically held on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. They can also be conducted in different ways, such as in-person, online, via telephone or even via email. 

Why are one-to-one meetings useful? 

As part of our company culture, one-to-one meetings have remained a driving force for achieving our goals at Charlie. 

Building trust

One-to-one meetings play a crucial role in fostering trust and communication between employees and managers. 

These meetings provide a dedicated space for open dialogue, where employees can express concerns, seek guidance, and receive feedback on their performance. 

By consistently engaging in one-to-one meetings, managers show their commitment to the professional growth and development of their employees, strengthening the foundation of trust within the relationship. 

Improving performance and productivity 

During the process of a 1:1 meeting, managers can provide employees with constructive and clear feedback. 

This helps them to understand their performance and areas for improvement. Gallup research shows that team members who participate in regular meetings are three times more likely to feel highly engaged in their work.  

Solving issues 

Regular one to one meetings create space for employees to share their perspectives, experiences and expertise on certain matters. They can also be a great time for manager and employee to solve any hurdle they’re facing with a specific task. 

The right way to prepare for a one-to-one meeting

In this section, I'll show you how to optimise your 1:1s effectively through preparation. It's worth noting that studies reveal 71% of professionals lose valuable time each week due to cancelled or unnecessary meetings. 

This means that workers find most work meetings unproductive. So how do you change that? By preparing of course! 

For Employees

  1. Get to know the meeting agenda: take a few minutes over the next couple of days to review the meeting agenda your team lead sent out. Whether it's through a calendar invite or an email, this brief review is crucial for staying informed about the topics to be discussed.
  2. Review notes from previous meeting: in your last meeting, you must have made note of action items, feedback received, and any unresolved issues discussed. At this point, your managers would be expecting some form of improvement. If you weren't able to meet some of the goals discussed, try to think of why you didn't achieve them. Being prepared to discuss these reasons and potential solutions or adjustments demonstrates accountability and a proactive approach. And if you did complete them, talk about your achievements and successes. This helps your manager see the value you bring to the company.  
  3. Make an agenda with a list of items you’d like to discuss: in preparation for 1:1s, some managers would ask for a list of those topics you’d like to discuss. If you have no idea where to begin, here are some topics that come up constantly at our one-to-one meetings at Charlie:
  • Updates on current projects
  • Challenges faced 
  • Recent accomplishments
  • New ideas 

It’s even a space we use to share about mental health, and to prevent burnout when it comes to employees. 

For Managers 

  1. Pick a time: some professionals prefer morning hours (8 a.m. to 12 p.m.) for meetings, while others prefer early hours (6 a.m. to 8 a.m.). I usually set one to one meetings 30 minutes every week to keep it concise and focused.
  2. Choose a comfortable space: the typical location for a one-to-one meeting is the manager's office or a company meeting room. Bear in mind that a lot of the meetings will also now take place online. 
  3. Set an agenda: before your 1:1s, each of you should have some idea of what you want to discuss for that meeting. Both managers and team members should write down an agenda. 

How to conduct an effective one-to-one meeting 

I've put together a six-step process managers and people leaders can use to implement their 1:1s. Follow this process to make the most out of your meetings. 

Step 1: Check-in first

Here at Charlie, we like to kick off by asking the general question “how are things going?”. It’s a great opener and allows people to be direct with what’s on their mind. After all, to get your employee to express their concerns and provide detailed answers, you must ask the right questions. So first, check in with how they’re doing mentally as that’s the first item likely to come up if they’re not feeling their best self. 

Step 2: Put together an agenda 

After asking how they're feeling, we go into agenda topics. The agenda lays out the items that are top-of-mind and gives the meeting some kind of structure. This prevents surprises and gives enough time for both of you to prepare – this is also something Charlie’s software can help you with. 

Choose from best practice review templates.webp

Step 3: Encourage feedback and communication 

Once you've addressed all the topics your employees want to discuss, you can transition to your agenda items: 

  • Begin by sharing any administrative announcements or updates
  • Ask for feedback 
  • Share any relevant updates about metrics 

Step 4: Address challenges and accountability

Hold your employee accountable for their commitments and provide support or resources as needed to help them overcome challenges. This shows that you are invested in their success and willing to support them in their professional development.  

Step 5: Recognise achievements and wins

Take time to celebrate your employee's achievements and successes during the meeting. Recognising their hard work and contributions motivates them to continue performing at their best, and fosters a positive work environment. 

Step 6: Closing prompt 

Before wrapping up the meeting, provide an opportunity for any final thoughts or questions from your employee. This ensures that all important topics have been addressed and allows your employees to raise any additional concerns or questions they may have. 

4 one-to-one meeting agenda templates 

Download our one-to-one template.webp

First one-to-one meeting template

Purpose: This meeting provides an opportunity for the manager to welcome the new employee, introduce them to the team and company culture, clarify expectations, and outline goals and objectives.

Meeting Agenda Checklist:

  • Welcome and introduction
  • Icebreaker question to get to know each other
  • Discuss roles, responsibilities, and expectations
  • Set short-term goals and priorities
  • Agree on communication preferences and frequency of meetings
  • Closing remarks and next steps

Questions to ask:

  • What motivated you to join our team/company?
  • Can you tell me about your short-term and long-term career goals?
  • What do you hope to achieve in your role here?
  • Are there any immediate challenges or concerns you'd like to discuss?

Weekly one-to-one template

Purpose: Teams can use weekly sync meetings as a perfect way to debate ongoing topics and issues. At Charlie, line managers usually check in with their reports on a weekly basis. We recommend that these meetings last around 15 minutes and cover the key questions below.

Meeting agenda checklist: After conducting many successful weekly syncs with our team, we've created a simple agenda checklist you can use to run your meetings. 

Setting up a Weekly Sync

  • If you’re not already having one-on-ones, explain what they are and why you’re having them
  • Schedule your recurring meetings

During your Weekly Sync

  • Reflect and run through any actions from the last Sync
  • Aim to listen as best as you can: PMs should be speaking for less than 50% of the Weekly Sync
  • Take notes: Follow through is super important so it’s helpful to keep notes of each Weekly Sync to help keep track of how your report is doing

After your Weekly Sync

  • Share any action points with your report </aside>

Questions to ask:

  • What’s going well this week for you?
  • What challenges are you facing at the moment?
  • How are you doing in general — how are you feeling?
  • Is there anything I can do support you better at the moment

Monthly one-to-one meeting template 

Purpose: At Charlie, we use our monthly one-to-one meetings to stay aligned on big picture objectives and support each team member's development. If you're conducting a monthly 1:1 for your team, here's what the meeting agenda would like along with questions you can ask. 

Meeting agenda checklist:

  • Reflect on achievements and challenges over the past month 
  • Discuss career aspirations and development opportunities 
  • Set goals and objectives for the upcoming month 
  • Review progress on professional development initiatives 
  • Address any concerns or feedback 
  • Closing remarks and next steps

Questions to ask:

  • What were your key accomplishments and challenges over the past month?
  • Are there any specific areas you would like to focus on for your career development?
  • What goals would you like to set for the upcoming month?
  • How can we further support your professional growth?
  • Do you have any feedback or suggestions for improving our team dynamics or processes?

Quarterly performance review one-to-one meeting template 

Purpose: Quarterly performance review meetings offer a structured opportunity to evaluate progress, provide constructive feedback, and set goals for the next quarter. To effectively conduct performance review meetings, use a performance software to easily track discussion points and progress. 

 Meeting agenda checklist:

  • Review performance against quarterly goals and objectives 
  • Discuss strengths, areas for improvement, and development opportunities 
  • Set SMART goals for the next quarter 
  • Address any performance-related concerns or challenges
  • Agree on actions and timelines for achieving goals 
  • Closing remarks and next steps

Questions to ask:

  • How would you assess your performance against the goals set for this quarter?
  • What are your main strengths and areas for improvement?
  • What specific goals would you like to achieve in the next quarter?
  • Are there any obstacles or challenges hindering your performance that we need to address?
  • Do you have any feedback on the performance review process or areas where we can improve?

Click here to start a free trial with Charlie

Read Next

Try Charlie for free

Take a week-long trial