10 Top Tips on conducting an effective 1:1 meeting

1:1 meetings are an essential tool for managing performance of all staff. Line managers must make space to meet on a regular basis with members of staff to confirm expectations and discuss how they and their work are progressing. You…

Blog23rd Nov 2022

1:1 meetings are an essential tool for managing performance of all staff. Line managers must make space to meet on a regular basis with members of staff to confirm expectations and discuss how they and their work are progressing. You should do this throughout employment.

Regular 1:1 meeting with your staff are a way to be clear on expectations, catch up with key issues, offer support and guidance, and prevent minor issues becoming major ones. They are a crucial way to value, motivate and retain staff, and whilst they require a certain commitment of time by both parties, regular ‘performance management’ in this way ultimately saves considerable time and effort in the long run.

As several of us continue to work remotely it is important we remember to book 1-2-1 meetings in advance virtually or in person.

Helpful tips are listed below:

1. Prepare: Both parties, line manager and member of staff, should prepare for the meeting and bring their own list of items and pieces of work they want to discuss. This is a joint process.

2. Protected time: One-to-one meetings are a key opportunity to catch up and give support, so this time should be protected; don’t cancel the meeting unless truly necessary and make sure to rearrange.

3. Privacy: The meeting must be held in a private room for both parties to be able to talk freely or if being held remotely it is a good idea for each party to have the video feature turned on so that managers can have an idea on how their member of staff is doing.

4. Frequency: It is up to you two to agree the frequency. Once a week or fortnightly seems to be a common pattern. Plan in advance for both of your diaries and try to stick to the same day of the week – it is easier for everyone to remember and to get used to.

5. Notes: You can take your own notes, agree to take joint ones, or ask the individual to be responsible for the notes. Notes should of course be agreed and copied to both. The notes should be action/outcome focused and can just be bullet points and an action list. Always refer to last meeting’s notes in your next meeting.

6. Confidentiality: This is a confidential process and notes should be kept safe. However, both the manager and member of staff need to acknowledge that information from the 1:1 meeting can be used outside the meeting. For example, due to difficult matters that require advice or support from others such as senior management or HR. Using information from the 1-2-1 meeting outside that meeting should be discussed by the manager and member of staff.

7. How am I doing? This is a rare opportunity to find out how your member of staff is getting on generally. If s/he wants to share any personal or work matters, which they feel you need to know, this is the obvious opportunity. Ask an open question of “How are you?” and your member of staff can then decide for themselves how they want to answer. This is also an opportunity to let your member of staff know how you think they are doing, and to show appreciation for their efforts and contribution to the team.

8. The spirit: The whole idea of this process is that it is a joint one and that it is constructive and supportive. If there are any work or other issues, the manager and member of staff need to talk them through and find solutions. Remember your role as a line manager is to guide, coach, enable, facilitate and remove obstacles for your staff. The meeting gives the member of staff the opportunity to discuss any difficulties they have had and to learn from them, or to just offload and accept them if that’s all that’s required. It is also an opportunity to plan.

9. It’s a learning process: Don’t be daunted. You will find your own style for this type of meeting, and you may well do things differently with different members of staff. Don’t forget that this is a forum for them, their progress and development and that they should do most of the talking.

10. Agenda: Agree a loose agenda that you are both ok with. Add whatever else needs to be discussed as and when, for instance: personal update, opening question on how things are going in general – Progress on operational work, plans, project work etc. – What has gone well? – What has not gone well and how to do things differently next time? – New training and development needs and progress on training plan and career progression etc. – Housekeeping, diary commitments, annual and other leave requests and team events – Any other business – Date of next meeting.

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