One-on-One Meeting FAQs: What Are the World’s Top Leaders Doing and Why?

What is a one-on-one meeting? How often should you meet with your direct reports? We answer all your questions in this post.

one on one meeting frequently asked questions

1 What is a one-on-one meeting?

A one-on-one meeting is a dedicated space in your calendar for you to connect with each person reporting to you and stay in the loop about priorities, team issues, and potential roadblocks.

Most importantly, it’s an anticipated moment where employees can ask in-depth questions, receive coaching on their strengths and weaknesses, and provide feedback — three things they wouldn’t be able to do in a public space or at a team meeting.

The Definitive Guide to One-on-Ones

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2 One-on-one meeting frequency: How often should you meet and for how long?

Opinions vary wildly on this. However, we can share with you what works best for most people, based on extensive testing: Aim for 30 minutes every week. Here are some of the reasons why:

Pro Tip

Always put your direct report’s items at the top of the one-on-one meeting agenda.

3 What’s better: A regular one-on-one meeting or ad hoc as needed?

Without a doubt: Schedule a regular, recurring one-on-one meeting because:

And possibly most importantly: we know that the realities of life mean that our good intentions, seldom materialize. If we intend on having a meeting, it’s easy for this intention to get put off by more urgent, but less important priorities.

The way to make something happen is to set aside the time for it.

Pro Tip

Save time and interruptions by grouping your non-urgent talking points in a meeting agenda tool like Fellow.

4 Scheduling your one-on-one meetings: What day of the week is best to meet?

Tuesday is a great option.

Scheduling your one-on-one meeting on Tuesdays gives you time to prepare for the meeting, but is early enough in the week for it to still be relevant for the week ahead. Plus, if something comes up that delays the one-on-one meeting, there is still time to re-schedule the meeting within the same workweek.

5 Where should your one-on-one meetings take place?

Somewhere convenient and relatively private. Don’t bother going off-site, or booking a special meeting room because this adds to the friction. Reducing friction reduces meeting overhead.

Meeting at your office or your managers’ office (for example) will give you sufficient privacy for 99% of the conversations you will need to have. On the occasions that you need more privacy (or if your company has an open office plan) – by all means, book a private room.

6 Are one-on-one meetings work or personal?

One-on-ones are a work meeting, so naturally, the primary focus is to cover work-related agenda items (such as obstacles, priorities, and feedback). But there is always a personal side to business because we are humans. And these meetings are also about getting to know your teammates and about getting them to know you as a person. Building a better relationship with your team will improve both your work happiness and effectiveness.

And, of course, it’s difficult to totally split your work life and who you are as a person. Your personal preferences will determine what work you are better at and how you want to develop your career. Your personal circumstances will affect your productivity and availability.

Pro Tip

If you have a personal issue that is going to impact your ability to work, I suggest that you keep your manager informed. You don’t have to share private details, just as much information as your manager needs to know.

7 Is there a standard one-on-one meeting agenda?

No, but there should be! As discussed in this one-on-one meeting agenda template, I recommend that you cover the following topics as a best practice agenda:

One on One With Your Manager
Use this template for free

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About the author

Keith Tatley is the founder of Manager Foundation – a site that helps managers learn essential management skills to improve work happiness and success. He’s also a reformed Chartered Accountant, yoga teacher, and current CFO at the medical device startup Rapid Response Revival.

Reach out to Keith for advice and training partnerships here.

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