The foundation of great teams is built with trust and strong human connection. One on One (1:1s) give both the manager and the direct an opportunity to build this human connection. But it goes beyond that: According to Google's Project Oxygen, successful managers are more likely to have frequent and effective one-on-one with their team members.

There is no doubt that meeting frequently with each team member requires a large time investment, but 1:1s are critical. They help with identifying issues early on and also create opportunities for the manager to provide feedback, and coach team members to be more effective.

effective one on one meetings
effective one on one meetings

Why aren't 1:1 meetings utilized efficiently?

The importance of 1:1 meetings are widely understood but unfortunately that does not necessarily mean 1:1s are being used effectively. Some reasons for that disconnect:

  • Misaligned expectations between manager and direct about 1:1 meetings. Recognize that this meeting is for your direct report. Find out what this person wants out of these meetings. Asked them what they liked or disliked about past experiences with 1:1s. How do they want to be supported?
  • Lack of preparation. As managers we are always jumping from meeting to meeting. Too often we find ourselves sitting across from our direct and feeling guilty about not being better prepared for this important conversation. Make it a daily routine to look at your team dashboard and update topics and action items for your 1:1s.
  • Not collaborating with our direct throughout the week to build an agenda for our 1:1 meeting. You should not be choosing all the topics and doing all the talking. Make sure your direct understands that this is their meeting and they should prepare to discuss the topics most important to them.

1:1 Meeting Best Practices: Do These!

one on one meeting best practices

📆 Schedule a weekly meeting with your direct:

A predictable day/hour helps you and your direct be better prepared for your 1:1.

📋 Collaborate on a meeting agenda throughout the week:

It is your direct's meeting. Encourage your direct to set the agenda for the meeting.


Put away phones. If you are using your computer for taking notes, let your direct know. Shut down distracting apps.

Create and follow up on action items:

Tracking and following up on what is agreed upon  during the meeting has great importance. Review action items owned by you and your direct.

🤝 Build Connection and Trust:

Leave room in the meeting to learn about this person. Learn about your direct's background, family, hobbies, pets. Strong connections and trust create great teams.

1:1 Meeting Bad Practices: Don't Do These!

one on one meeting bad practices

🗓 Don't reschedule or cancel your one-on-ones often

Rescheduling or cancelling your 1:1 with your direct sends a signal that you don't value their time or their opinions. Avoid cancelling or rescheduling your 1:1 meeting with your direct as much as possible.

🧾 Don't use your one-on-one for a project status update

The 1:1 meeting is your direct's meeting. Focus on helping your team member be more successful. Discuss topics that are harder to do over email or in a group setting. These are some project topics that are better discussed in person:

  • Aligning on the expected outcome of the project
  • Informing others about an important trade-off that needs to be made
  • Blockers that need to be cleared
  • Expected timeline changes that impact stakeholders.  

🤔 Don't set the meeting agenda DURING the meeting

We've all been there, but to make this meeting as effective as it can be, you need to prepare ahead of time. Have a log of topics and action items that you can curate throughout the week with your direct. This is a good way to ensure you have priorities to discuss.

🗣Don't do most of the talking

You probably have a lot of other important things to take care of,  but your job during this meeting as a manager is to focus on your report. Figure out where your report is at, where they want to go and how you can help them get there. You need to make sure the direct is aligned with your team's goals.

A Few More Tips on How to Run a Good 1:1 Meeting:

A few more one on one best practices and tips
A few more one on one best practices and tips

Discuss important items

Weekly 1:1 meetings  usually last for 30 minutes. Focus on a few urgent items. Figure out where your direct is at and how you can help them. I'll explain later how ManagersApp can help with this.

Align on what great results would look like

Since projects are fluid, discussions on what great output looks like need to be revisited often. Be sure to get on the same page about goals and expectations for projects.

Let your direct find the answers

There are questions you can ask to better identify, clarify and support your direct in solving problems they are facing. I'll explain later how ManagersApp can help.

Share Feedback

Regularly collect 360 feedback from other team members. Share the positive or constructive feedback you've received with your direct in a timely way. Focus on delivering this feedback in a way that will help your report. ManagersApp has tools that can help with all of these steps. I'll explain more below.

Avoid scheduling your 1:1 on Mondays and Fridays

People tend to take time off on Mondays and Fridays because these are the days next to Saturday and Sunday 😉. Avoid scheduling your meeting on these days to prevent missing your weekly meeting.

Run Effective One-On-Ones With ManagersApp

How ManagersApp can help you run effective 1:1 meetings
How ManagersApp can help you run effective 1:1 meetings

Integrated tools to help you organize and execute effective 1:1 meetings.

  • View add/update topics and action items while your one on one meeting notes are still accessible.
You can easily search and add new 1:1 meeting topics or action items
You can easily search and add new 1:1 meeting topics or action items
  • Access  Conversation Starter questions to identify, and understand what might be blocking your team member and learn how you can offer support.
1:1 meeting conversation starter questions are there when you need them
1:1 meeting conversation starter questions are there when you need them
  • Share a document used for brainstorming an agenda with your direct throughout the week. That way you are always prepared to discuss top priority topics at the 1:1. Your direct does not need to log into Managers.App. You simply share a link to a portal that gives them access to a shared 1:1 document and more.
one on one weekly shared document
one on one weekly shared document

ManagersApp Automatically Creates 1:1 Topics and Action Items.  

  • When a peer/teammate submits new feedback via  ManagersApp 360 feedback, an action item with a summary will be added to your 1:1 agenda automatically so you can share this feedback with your direct. The timeliness of sharing this feedback matters. If shared and received properly, this feedback can motivate your team member to keep doing great work or correct the course quickly and put things on the right track.
  • ManagersApp let's you send out anonymous, weekly Pulse surveys to your team. When a Pulse survey ❤️ rating needs your attention, ManagersApp will create 1:1 topics for you and each of your directs with conversation starters, so you can brainstorm with your direct and figure out how to improve that rating. Pulse surveys are anonymous and you should never ask an individual team member how they rated something. However,  you should most definitely ask for opinions about how your team can improve certain ratings.
pulse survey one-on-one topic
pulse survey one-on-one topic

One-on-one Agenda Template For Manager

  • Review action items from the previous week
  • Share positive or constructive 360 Feedback from teammates/peers
  • Identify, understand and provide support on priority work items (see ManagersApp's conversation starters)
  • Share important team or organizational updates and plans
  • Save some time to learn about your direct; their hobbies and passions

One-on-one Agenda Template For Direct:

  • Review action items from previous week
  • Bring up work items that you need help/support with
  • Ask for feedback, share positive and constructive feedback for your manager
  • Bring up questions or concerns about team/org strategy
  • Save some time to learn about your manager; their hobbies and passions


Good managers know 1:1 meetings are essential for building a good working relationship and this time should not be wasted. That is why conducting effective 1:1 meetings with your team is fundamental to building a high output team. As a manager you should do your best to improve the effectiveness of your 1:1 meetings. ManagersApp's one-on-one module provides tools to help execute better 1:1 discussions and it is available in Free and Pro versions. You can sign up today and start having more effective 1:1s!