Ways to Have Effective 1-On-1 Meetings

7 Ways to Have Effective 1-on-1 Meetings with Your Employees

Zach Parkes360 Degree / Continuous Feedback, Leaders, Performance Reviews & 1-on-1s


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Ways to Have Effective 1-On-1 Meetings

7 Ways to Have Effective 1-on-1 Meetings with Your Employees


1-on-1 Meetings Drive Results and Team Success

Here are some handy tips to pass on to your people managers to encourage regular 1-on-1 meetings and how to make them more effective.

Gone are the days where a single, annual performance review was the only 1-on-1 meeting between a manager and employee about their professional progress. As studies show, there is little value, beyond an administrative exercise to the single review approach.. That is not to say that the formal annual review should be done away with, but the more opportunities you can create to discuss performance, the better for your company. You can think of these additional meetings as check-ins as opposed to the all-encompassing annual review.

So, if you want to work toward driving an optimal feedback culture within your organization, here are seven tips to help you implement check-in meetings with impact!


1. Define the purpose of your 1-on-1 meetings.

What is it that you hope to accomplish with these check-in meetings? You should have a clear purpose in mind when conducting these meetings, so that both you and your employees can feel that time is being put to good use. Some things you can hope to accomplish, and their benefits are;

  • Building rapport with employees from one check-in to the next fosters open dialogue and increases the potential for engagement.
  • Ensuring that you and your employees are on the same page in a day- to- day context will facilitate effective long-term alignment to organizational objectives. No one will feel left in the dark!
  • Making your employees aware that their opinion is valued will encourage them to feel comfortable enough to come forward with potential issues so that they can be addressed before they have a chance to escalate.
  • Becoming aware of individual employee aspirations will help assist each employee in ways specific to their personal career development objectives. Everyone is different, which makes 1-on-1 meetings a perfect time to talk about personal career goals.

To summarize, building an on-going rapport, ensuring that everyone is on the same page, making employees feel that their opinion is valued, and learning the career goals of individuals are all great potential outcomes of performing regular 1-on-1 meeting.

2. Schedule 1-on-1 meetings often.

Make it a priority to have regular meetings with your staff in between more formal performance reviews. Try setting up something like “every second Thursday” or “the first Wednesday of the month” for each employee and stick to it.

It’s easy to push back a check-in meeting in favor of something that seems more time sensitive, but this should be avoided as much as possible. These check-in meetings should be treated with importance, because they ARE important!

Meet Often & On Schedule

3. Set an attainable goal for each 1-on-1 meeting.

Well before you head into a check-in meeting, ensure that it has a purpose. Set a feasible goal that you’d like to accomplish by the end of your discussion.

For example, knowing in advance that you need to “see why Bob’s struggled to meet his last three deadlines” or “share the great feedback Sue’s project received from our big client” will guarantee that you’re using your time – and your employee’s time – wisely.

These goals don’t have to be enormous accolades and can be as simple as having a brief discussion about a pre-determed topic. Setting a goal and achieving it will help to reinforce the structure and importance of future check-in meetings and will leave your employees feeling satisfied and engaged.

4. Prepare questions ahead of time.

Formulate some questions that align with your goal for the meeting. To extend the above example, you might ask Bob about barriers to finishing his work on time and how you can help. Do take caution to tread lightly around potentially sensitive or personal issues. .

If you’re struggling with how to ask your questions, SpriggHR’s Check-In Meeting question bank is a great place to get started. 

Check-In Meeting Questions

Employee Check-In Meeting Questions (Employee asks to Leader)

What's one thing I do well that I should continue doing?

What's one thing that I could do differently, or start doing that would make me even more effective?

Leader Check-In Meeting Questions (Leader asks to Employee)

What is somerthing you want to highlight? Progress towards a goal, accomplishment, or learning?

What might be one area for coaching, learning or development?

What's one thing I'm doing to support you that's working?

What's one way that I could work better for you?

5. Make 1-on-1 meetings a two-way conversation.

While it’s great to be ready for your meeting with a goal and some questions, give your employees the leeway to direct some of the meeting, too. Cultivate a safe atmosphere for them to share their own questions and concerns about how their work is going, as well as the opportunity to trumpet their successes.

Ask your employee what YOU can improve on to help them achieve their goals and maximize their performance. Cultivatating a safe environment is crucial, as your employee must feel that they are able to address issues and concerns with you.


6. Capture highlights of your discussion.

You or your employee can notes on the key points of what was discussed and agreed during the check-in meeting. This documentation is essential in measuring progress, recaping next steps and supporting achievements

SpriggHR allows you to document all of your check-in meeting notes and keep them with the employee’s file. This feature comes in handy when it comes time for more in depth performance conversations, such as the annual performance review. Having these notes can help both yourself and your employee be properly prepared for the annual review and make sure that there are no major surprises for either party!


7. Always end on a positive note.

It’s unrealistic to think that every 1-on-1 meeting will be purely positive. There will inevitably be times when employees are not meeting expectations, and corrective measures will need to be discussed. There will also be times when an employee is displeased by what you tell them
regarding their performance.

Even if your check-in meeting takes a negative turn, you always have the power to end things on a positive note. Perhaps you informed an employee that things need to change, and they reacted with resistance, reluctance or appeared stressed. Inform your employee that you’re on
the same team as them, and you’re there to help them achieve their goals. Reassure them that it’s okay to seek assistance when they need it. The last thing that you want is for your employees to dread their next 1-on-1 meeting!

By always ending on a good note, you can help to reinforce the idea that these meetings are
intended to provide guidance and direction, not criticism.


Final Thoughts

Checking in with your staff means checking in with what fuels your company’s success, so arm yourself with these tips, and try it at your next 1-on-1!

Here at SpriggHR, 1-on-1 meetings are a cornerstone to employee engagement and achieving goals. It is for that reason that they are offered as one of our core solutions!

Let us show you our 1-on-1 & check-in meeting features!

We would love to introduce you to Sprigg. Hit the “Request a Demo” button and we'll customize a demo just for you, led by one of our senior HR professionals. We look forward to connecting!

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