Management

How To Improve Your 1:1 Meetings

Do your meetings contribute to the business or are they little more than a chance to chat? Use our approach to help you bring structure and consistency.


Great things happen when your workforce is aligned, and we believe the best way to create an aligned workforce is by having great 1:1 meetings up and down the organization. That's why we created this form.

1-on-1 Meeting FormDo your 1:1s contribute to the business or are they little more than a chance to chat? The approach outlined below will help you bring structure and consistency to those meetings.  

Whether you are a manager who wants more productive relationships with your direct reports or you're trying to create a more constructive relationship with your manager, 1:1 meetings are the best way to make that happen. 

This 1:1 Meeting Form guides you through a meeting and helps you make progress on important issues. It allows you to take control of your own productivity and fosters collaborative relationships throughout the organization.

Get your free copy of the fillable PDF form here:

  

 

How to use the 1:1 meeting form

1-on-1 Meeting Guide

(1) Administration

Do your future self a favor and document decisions; start by jotting down the date and attendees of the meeting.

(2) 90-Day Goals

Regular 1:1 meetings allow you to step out of the chaos of urgent matters and reorient yourself to the bigger picture. Even if only for 30 seconds, revisiting your goals is a chance to refocus your attention on the important.

Revisiting the goals you've already set will make the next step (Issues/Solutions) much more fun and productive. 

We like the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) approach to goal setting because it allows you to capture some qualitative goals like "be more confident advocating for myself and my team in senior leadership meetings," as well as the typical quantitative goals like "reduce production downtime by 20% by December." 

(3) Issues/Solutions

All meetings should have a purpose. The purpose of a 1:1 meeting is to provide direction, make decisions, and get critical feedback*. Both come best when you're solving real issues.

First, capture 3-5 issues. Write them as headlines.

Once you've reaffirmed your 90-day goals, ask the question, "what issues are there related to the goals?" Write them down.

Second, rank the issues based on urgency.

To rank well, ask the question, "what do I need to have solved in the next hour, and what are we in a position to solve here?"

Third, solve some issues! (Click here for an example issue/solution.)

Starting with number one, provide the context and detail to the issue that the other person may need. Then solicit questions to more fully understand the problem, allowing the other participant to provide their perspective and give any relevant insights.

Explain your decision and discuss whether it's the right decision and how to proceed.

CAUTION! Avoid the typical dichotomies of yes/no and agree/disagree. A third possible response is not yet.
 
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When trying to reach a consensus, remember there are three degrees of agreement:

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If there is disagreement, ask the question, "While you disagree on this solution, if we proceed with it, will you support it?" Don't waste time trying to get someone to agree if they've already committed to supporting the decision.   

(4) Backlog

You'll never have time to solve all the issues in one sitting. Only important items you need to revisit in a future 1:1 should find their way to the backlog.

Revisit the most recent backlog at the beginning of each 1:1 and move items to the issues list. Issues should not sit on the backlog for more than one meeting.

(5) Task List

Not everything should be done in a meeting. Some things are best done alone. List any commitments made during the 1:1 meeting here. The timeframe for completion is only the amount of time between 1:1 meetings (e.g., one week).

CAUTION! This is not your personal task management organizer. Migrate these tasks to a task organizer like Trello  or ClickUp immediately after the meeting. 

(6) Notes

Even though this is a highly structured meeting format, impromptu discussions and insights will arise, which is a good thing! Maybe you get some insight into the hiring strategy, or you get to open up about the challenges you're facing outside of work. This section is to help you process and retain the great insight that can only come during a 1:1 meeting.

After the meeting, transfer your notes to a program like OneNote, so you'll be able to reference them later. 

(7) Meeting score

Finally, rate the effectiveness of the meeting. This rating is a subjective assessment of how you thought the meeting went. The goal is to achieve a score of 10 in each meeting. The only one who sees this score is you, so be honest. If you were dissatisfied with some aspect of the meeting - perhaps it wasn't easy to stay on topic, or you didn't end on time - figure out what minor adjustment you can make next time. 

Use this form for three months and watch as your 1:1 meetings lead to great things!

  
 
 
*Critical feedback

Critical feedback is not criticism or an invitation to micro-manage. Critical feedback means providing another person with your perspective that is critical for them to hear to understand their behavior or performance better. Pro tip: Try to provide perspective, not advice. 

Example of critical feedback:

"During your presentation with senior executives yesterday, you consistently ended your statements with '..., right?' (I counted ten times in 5 minutes). When you remove filler words, you make it easier for people to understand what you're trying to say."

 

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*Example issue/solution
  • Issue #1 - Hiring decision for new electrical engineer

    • Define - Hiring manager - "The interview process is complete. We have two great candidates, Xavier and Zinnia. The interview team collectively agreed that Xavier would be a good choice. However, I'm concerned about Xavier's technical ability. Zinnia has a strong resume, but some team members didn't seem to get along with them."

    • Questions - Director - "Does your concern about Xavier's technical ability extend to their ability to learn what they need to? Would Zinnia's personality make it difficult for you to integrate them into the team? Should we decline both candidates and re-post the job?"

    • Decision - Hiring Manager - "We need another electrical engineer within 30 days, meaning we don't have time to re-post the job. We have two good (albeit not great) candidates. We already have a solid technical team. Suppose we hire someone with the right mindset and personality. In that case, they may elevate the team's performance while also improving their own technical skills on the job."

      • Hiring Manager - "Ok, I'll extend the offer to Xavier."

      • Director - "Like you, I don't agree that either is the perfect candidate, but I can support that decision. Let's use some of the professional development budget to get Xavier into a training course in the first 90 days, and let's get that offer out the door."

      • Hiring Manager - "Agreed."

      • Director - "Add the offer letter to your tasks. What's our next issue?"

  • Time to complete (3 minutes)

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