What if someone told you that Human Resources is a slightly complex term? Before you believe them, you would ask the most pertinent question of ‘why.’
Although as a resource, the skills, and expertise of an employee are used to run an organization efficiently, there is a human aspect to be appealed to.
Gone are the days when an employee would be considered just a tool to get work done. Organizations have realized that employees need much more apart from salaries, designations, and benefits. They need to feel valued, understood and have a sense of belonging.
With the intent to consistently engage with their employees, and to understand their comfort with their job roles and work culture, organizations have introduced one-on-one meetings. One-on-one meetings are interactions between an employee and their supervisor to build a strong working relationship.
Common benefits of one-on-one meetings
Engaging and communicating with employees consistently through regular one-on-one meetings will help the manager to understand how comfortable they feel and what changes and improvements need to be made for employee well-being
Employee loyalty and retention
One-on-one meetings make employees feel belonged to the organization since managers can help in building rapport and trust, support them to achieve their goals, and overcome challenges. The feeling that someone cares for their well-being often prompts employees to stay longer with the organization.
The meetings are used to review employee performance and share positive as well as negative feedback so that the employee can improve at work and perform at their optimum.
Improved succession pipeline
One-on-one meetings allow the manager to gauge the potential of an employee and provide training and coaching to employees so that they can grow in the organization.
Stronger organizational culture
One-on-one meetings offer managers a great opportunity to positively influence the employee’s perspective about their job role and the organization. This reduces dissatisfaction caused due to peer influence or office politics. Managers also get a chance to motivate employees and fix employee morale.
Structure of a one-on-one meeting
When it comes to meetings, having a structure is important. Even if the meeting does not cover all the aspects, it helps in maintaining the quality of the conversation. A meeting template will also help avoid awkward silences and digressions to random topics.
So how do you start?
Ideally, every meeting starts with a greeting. It may sound silly but employees feel more welcome if their manager remembers to greet them not only in the meeting but also whenever they meet.
Newer employees may feel nervous or hesitant in opening up to their manager, especially in their first meeting. Hence, managers can use common phrases and questions as icebreakers, if and when necessary. Even with tenured employees, it is necessary for the manager to build rapport by asking about their overall well-being.
- Professional achievements
Discussing professional achievements or improvements is fairly straightforward. The manager must allow the employee to share what they consider their achievements or improvements since their last meeting. After the employee shares their experience, the manager can acknowledge, reiterate or add an observation regarding the employee’s achievements.
- Progress on professional & personal goals
Maintaining the conversation on a fairly positive note, the manager can then move on to asking about the employee’s professional and/or personal goals.
In case, goals have been discussed earlier, the progress of achievable goals can be reviewed.
- Challenges faced
Next, the manager can ask the employee about any challenges faced pertaining to tasks and targets, communicating with peers or managers, or fitting into the company culture.
- Constructive Feedback
Managers can use these meetings to share constructive feedback if any. If the employee is aware, most of the points would have been covered while discussing the earlier aspects.
Constructive feedback is not only about pointing out what went wrong but also about providing the required training or skill development for the employee to be more productive and efficient.
- Career development
Managers can also offer coaching support and share feedback with employees. This is also necessary when the manager discusses employee growth opportunities within the organization that the employee can consider.
- Support required from manager
Managers can ask the employee for any other expectations they may have for them to feel more comfortable and productive in the company.
So far, the conversation is professional. In case the employee has communicated all his professional needs and expectations, the manager can touch upon some aspects of the employee’s work-life balance. Managers can ask about an employee’s likes, hobbies,
What should a manager not do in a one-on-one meeting?
While there is a list of things to do, a manager must remember to not do the following things:
- Cancel or reschedule meetings frequently
- Be distracted
- Cut off the employee while they speak
- Be in a hurry to finish meetings
- Dismiss the employee’s feedback
7 employee one-on-one meeting templates
First one-on-one meeting template
When an individual joins an organization, he/she comes with their own set of expectations. They come with their skill sets and expertise. The first meeting with a new employee is very important for the organization as well as the new employee, as this presents both a chance to express and understand the business ethos as well as each others goals
- Tell me more about yourself
- What do you like to do outside of work?
- What are your expectations from the job role?
- What are your expectations from me?
- What kind of work or projects are you looking forward to?
- Have you thought about your professional goals?
- What skills or technology would you like to learn/work on?
- What will make you feel comfortable in the company?
- How would you like to receive feedback?
Weekly/bi-weekly one-on-one meeting template
These meetings are concise because of their frequency.
- What did you do well in the last week?
- What could have been done better?
- What challenges did you face?
- What help do you need from me to help you overcome those challenges?
- What are you looking forward to, in the forthcoming week?
- Is there any feedback you would like to share, regarding any aspect of your work?
- How much progress have you made in achieving your goals?
Monthly one-on-one meeting template
These meetings need to have a clear one-on-one meeting agenda and structure since this meeting is happening after a month.
- What were the highlights of the past month?
- What improvements did you see in your work?
- What challenges did you face?
- Were you able to achieve your goals? What made it possible/not possible?
- Did you get the required support, training, and guidance to do your job well?
- What do you wish to achieve in the forthcoming month?
- What support or training do you need to achieve your goals?
- What feedback would you share about the organizational processes and leadership?
Quarterly performance review template
These meetings are very common in organizations and work really well when the team works on projects. They also give employees enough time to make changes, learn and improve.
- What were your achievements in the last quarter?
- Did you achieve your set goals? What worked or didn’t work in the process?
- What did you change in your approach to work?
- What challenges did you face while working? How did you overcome them?
- Were you provided enough help and support to achieve your goals?
- Who helped or motivated you to achieve your goals?
- What goals or targets have you set for the next 3 months?
Annual one-on-one meeting template
Yearly meetings are to review achievements and focus on bigger goals like aiming for a designation or becoming a specialist.
- What were the highlights of the year (both personally and professionally)?
- What were the 3 happy moments/achievements in the year?
- What could have gone better in the year?
- Were you able to focus on achieving a good work-life balance?
- Who did you rely on for professional support or help?
- What would you like to focus on in the forthcoming year?
- How would you contribute to the organization and what is your expectation from the organization?
Remote one-on-one meeting template
With increasing hybrid and remote modes of work, engaging with employees becomes even more significant.
- What is the best part about working remotely?
- Do you feel comfortable with the communication between the team and your manager?
- Are you satisfied with the workload and the nature of the work given to you?
- Are there any technical challenges you face while working remotely?
- What improvements would you recommend in our processes and communication?
- Do you feel you get enough support while working remotely?
- Is focusing through distractions a challenge for you?
Skip-level one-on-one meeting template
Skip-level meetings help management in keeping in touch with employees to gauge the pulse of employee productivity and satisfaction as well as leadership effectiveness.
- How do you feel in your current job role?
- How can you contribute to the organizational or team growth/success?
- Do you get enough support and training to do your best at work?
- How comfortable do you feel discussing your challenges with your immediate manager?
- What has worked for you so far in the organization?
- Would you like to share your experience/feedback about your job role, leadership, and organizational processes?
- What is the best part of working with your manager?
- What are your personal goals?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
One-on-one meetings can bridge any communication gaps between employees and management. It can help to create mutually beneficial goals and an organized plan of action to achieve them. With an open mind and the intent to help the employees develop, managers can impact productivity, retention, and organizational culture in a huge way!
FAQs on Employee one-on-ones
Should all one-on-one meetings have an agenda?
It depends on the manager and the employee. Even if the meeting doesn’t have an agenda, it must have a structure that addresses the main aspects of an employee’s professional and personal growth and well-being. However, the manager and/or an employee can choose a specific agenda for their one-on-one meetings.
How long should a one-on-one meeting be?
A one-on-one meeting can last anywhere from 30 min to 90 min, depending on the nature of conversations or agenda and the frequency of meetings. If these meetings are scheduled frequently, managers may need lesser time to check in with the employee. Longer meeting times are needed for employees facing challenges with their job role or work culture.
How frequent should one-on-one meetings be?
One-on-one meetings can be scheduled weekly or bi-weekly. It is wiser to schedule meetings that are feasible for the manager to attend consistently. It makes more sense to space out meetings instead of canceling or rescheduling these meetings frequently. If the size of the team is bigger or if the team has newer or low-skilled employees, the meetings will be more frequent.
What is the main objective of one-on-one meetings?
The main intent of the one-on-one meeting is to understand the employee’s comfort with their work and work culture. Additionally, it can be used for sharing feedback and contributing to the employee’s development. Managers can also communicate with employees about their personal goals and aspirations in one-on-one meetings. However, managers should maintain boundaries by not asking personal questions that may make the employee feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, employees can choose to share any information about their life depending on how comfortable they feel with their manager.
What questions can employees ask in one-on-one meetings?
Employees can ask the manager about the opportunities in the organization, feedback about their performance, and support through coaching or training if they require any.
Who records the meeting minutes in one-on-one conversations?
Usually, it is the employee who must record the minutes of a one-on-one conversation to ensure that they have understood the gist. Of course, the manager can also offer to send the meeting minutes but must do so within a week of the meeting.