The Leader’s Ultimate Guide to Effective One-on-One Meetings: Part II

In our latest blog post we hammered home (we hope) the importance of regular, standing one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. To read more about why these meetings are so important, check out the last article here.


Now that you understand the importance of one-on-one meetings, here are some advanced tips to maximize your time with your employees.


Have a clear format/agenda. You may think it’s evident to your employee why you meet regularly for a one-on-one. Maybe they do understand, or perhaps they just think you like meetings. Either way, it never hurts to reiterate the goal of the meeting and utilize a consistent agenda format with your team.

It doesn’t need to feel formal. Say something like, “I enjoy our time together each week so I can check in with you, clear up roadblocks, and help you develop your career. This is an important opportunity for us to share feedback and grow professionally. I hope you get as much out of it as I do each week.”

Ask them directly how you can accomplish these things or if they find the meetings helpful. If they don’t, dig into why and see if you can alter the one-on-one format to fit your employee’s learning style – without sacrificing the key elements that make a one-on-one effective.



Dedicate time to career planning and goals. One-on-ones are significant opportunities for leaders to discuss long-term goals with employees. This increases engagement and trust, and is a time for you to mentor your team.

Open the dialogue by asking your employees, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “What element of your job do you enjoy the most?” or “What other positions at the company are you interested in pursuing in the future?

This will help with career coaching and professional development and can enrich the one-on-one experience for your employee and you. Mentoring can be exceptionally rewarding for all parties! We recommend having an in-depth career development talk one-on-one with your direct reports at least twice a year, if not more.


Ensure an ongoing feedback loop. Nothing kills enthusiasm more than talking with your employee every week and thinking you’re providing value and leading them well, only to find out they are miserable and unfulfilled – and it’s your fault. Likewise, no employee wants to find out during a performance review that they are not up-to-snuff on their performance.

Leaders need to be direct, honest, and timely with their feedback for employees, and they need to ask for feedback on their performance, as well. Use one-on-one meetings to address issues of communication style and work style, and provide guidance and support to each other. Foster an open, transparent working relationship where honesty and constant, ongoing feedback can flow both ways, and you’ll all be better for it.

If you’re meeting with a star employee, you need to work harder to ensure you can provide them with meaningful, thoughtful feedback on how they can reach new heights and find increasingly challenging assignments for them to work on. When you cultivate great employees, you stand out as a phenomenal leader who finds opportunities for their team to shine.


Always come prepared. As the leader in this relationship, there is no excuse for attending a meeting unprepared. Showing up to scheduled appointments on time and looking presentable shows you respect your employees. If you’re on a video call, turn your video on! Seeing and reading expressions is an integral part of communication and rapport building.

Set aside time on your calendar to prepare for the meeting. Even if your one-on-one isn’t content-heavy, work hard to bring thoughtful issues, feedback, or information to the meeting. Being prepared adds value and is a great way to lead by example.


We recommend tackling your action items directly after the meeting commences so that you can cover more ground with your employee while you are with them.

We hope you find this guide to one-on-one meetings helpful and informative. If you have additional suggestions or feedback for us, give us a comment! 

I'd like to receive free HR advice to my inbox each month!