How to Hold an Effective “One on One” Meeting

one on one meeting

As a manager, do you have regular one on one conversations with your direct reports?

Most managers will answer no – or – not as often as I should.  Is that you?

If so, you are certainly not alone.  Most managers don’t plan for regular individual meetings or they put them off. That’s because working managers have a lot going on and time gets away.

But, if you plan ahead and make this important task a priority, the payoff will be more than worth the effort.


The one on one is a great way to connect and build trust by simple showing up and engaging on a consistent basis. It can also be a goldmine of information that will help you! You will uncover issues earlier, determine satisfaction, solve problems, give and receive regular feedback, and get a pulse on the culture of your team.  

Make Some Time

I recommend holding a regular meeting with each of the employees you are responsible for at least twice a month for 30-60 minutes.  The key here is to be consistent. Choose a time and place that is private (no interruptions or distractions) and make the meetings a priority.  If you can, go off site – to a coffee shop or a sitting area outside. Canceling and rescheduling gives a very loud and counter-productive signal that you don’t really care. Make the time and then make it work.

A Sample One on One Agenda

You should tailor your agenda to your style and circumstances. Here is a sample agenda that you can start with.

1. Start with a general check-in:

How are you? How is life? How’s your work-life balance right now.What’s on your mind?  Is there anything specific you want to talk about?

2. Celebrate recent successes in their work.

Show appreciation and gratitude.

3. Give Feedback (tie to performance goals).

Coach in the areas that need improvement/ debrief recent project or situation.

4. Ask for Feedback:

What can I do to help you be even more successful? How can I be a better boss? What is your favorite thing I do, that I should keep on doing?

5. Set goals/next steps. 

Set the stage for the next meeting.  Confirm time/place.

In my online course Manager Essentials: How to Be a Better Boss, I share much more detail on how to make a one on meeting successful including what questions you should ask, how to make time in your schedule, and I teach the coaching skills you need to make your meetings a huge success.

I know that you will find that one of the most useful skills you will develop as a manager is how to hold effective one on one meetings with your direct reports.

If this isn’t a habit you have, it’s time to start. 


Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach and expert in workplace communications. She is the owner and CEO of Cornerstone Coaching & Training, dedicated to helping individuals, work groups and organizations become better communicators and leaders. She is the author of 2 books on communication, and a newly published journal Intentional Gratitude

Cornerstone hosts a twice-annual Women’s Summit that brings women together to learn how to become more confident communicators.

For more training and professional development offerings, check out For more info on her new online course: Manager Essentials: How to Be a Better Boss

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