Review the one-on-one meeting checklist before your next one-on-one.
1. Schedule a consistent one-on-one meeting cadence
Schedule a consistent meeting cadence whether it’s once a week or every other week for one-on-ones. One-on-ones should be at least 30 minutes, to allow time to connect with your team member as a person, and tackle necessary work items.
2. Be prepared for one-on-ones
Both people should prepare for the one-on-one meeting. That means defining an agenda in advance and being prepared to discuss the agenda items. Don’t be afraid to postpone the meeting if either person needs more time to prepare
3. Find ways to show you care in one-on-ones
Find ways to show you care about your team member as a person in your one-on-ones. Focus on listening and learning about them beyond the role they play at work. Studies have shown that employees who feel personally supported at work are more engaged, better performers, and more likely to stay with the company than those team members who are afraid to share personal goals, struggles, or information with their managers.
4. Give team members control over the one-on-one agenda.
Give team members control over the agenda. The one-on-one meeting is their time with you. If you need to discuss something that you don’t have time to bring up at the end of the one-one-one, schedule separate time to discuss your topics with them.
5. Prioritize listening, mentoring, and coaching over status updates in one-on-ones.
Make it your goal in every one-on-one meeting to listen and reflect back what you heard to your team members.
6. Don't cancel one-on-ones
Don’t cancel one-on-ones because other work takes priority. It sends the message that the one-on-one and, by extension, the person are less important that the work.
7. Start with a one-on-one check-in
Start the one-one-one meeting with a check-in or ice-breaker question to allow people to transition from whatever they were doing right before and to gain a shared understanding of each person’s state of mind.
8. Be vulnerable in one-on-ones
Use one-on-one time to find ways to be vulnerable with your team members. Being vulnerable is key to developing trust so people feel safe about being forthcoming and vulnerable themselves. One way to do this in one-on-ones is to share a personal shortcoming, failure, or something you want to improve as a manager. Doing so signals to the team member that it’s okay for them to share the same information, and that information helps you coach and develop your team member.
9. Document goals in one-on-one meetings
Document the goals of each team member in one-on-one meetings. Make it a point to document current work goals so your expectations of the team member are clear, but also make it a point to document goals outside of the current work too -- look for career goals and personal goals. Document progress towards the goals each week. The benefits of doing this are many: team members remain focused forward and accountable, visualizing progress of goals in one-on-ones can spark creative ways to improve, and you’ll have a significantly easier time writing performance reviews at the end of the year or quarter.
10. Take private notes in one-on-one meetings
Take private notes in one-on-one meetings to help you remember important contextual information (like a team member's child's name) or behaviors you notice from team members -- things that may concern you if you notice them more than once, but also take note of behaviors you want to reward or encourage.