What is a one on one?
A one on one is a regular meeting between a manager and one of their direct reports. One on ones should last at least 30 minutes, and should be scheduled at the same time each week. One on-ones should be a private conversation, personalised to each manager/report relationship.
What is the purpose of a one on one?
One on ones give everyone in the company a chance to be heard. They provide an opportunity for reports to talk with their managers about their life both inside and outside of work - airing any grievances, asking any questions, and working through any issues that are troubling them.
It's important to remember the one on one is not the manager's meeting. While it's common for managers to ask questions of their reports during a one on one, these should just be used to maintain dialogue around topics the report wants to discuss.
How do you conduct a one on one?
Since a one on one is just a conversation, there's no strict format to follow. However, there are a few common traits of good one on one meetings.
The manager should encourage their report to come prepared with any topics they'd like to discuss each week. Doing this helps keep the meeting valuable, and makes continuing a productive conversation easier.
Listening and understanding
It's important that the manager listens and understands during the one on one. They should ensure they leave the meeting clear on where things have gone well, where they could have gone better, and where their report may need help or support.
Managers should ask questions to get a full understanding of the issues raised in the one on one, and keep a productive conversation going for at least 30 minutes. Our one on one question generator is an excellent tool for helping with this.
Managers and their reports can use the one on one to work through problems together. This shouldn't be forced (sometimes people just want to vent), but can be offered.
What do you discuss in a one on one?
Although the manager should encourage their reports to come prepared with things to talk about, there won't always be enough to comfortably fill a 30 minute period. Some people just don't like to talk much, and others find introspection difficult. Since it's the manager's job to keep a productive conversation going, Here are some ideas for topics to talk about. Questions around each of these topics are baked into our one on one question generator:
- Questions about the manager. For example, “What could I do as a manager to make your work easier?”.
- Questions about career development. For example, “What do you want to be doing in 5 years?”.
- Questions about job satisfaction. For example, “Are you happy with your recent work? Why or why not?”.
- Questions about the team and company. For example, “What is the #1 Problem at our company? Why?”.
- Questions about work-life. For example, “What about your job is most satisfying for you?”.
- General conversation starters. For example, “Tell me about your week – what’s it been like?”.
- Miscellaneous questions. For example, “How are things going for you outside of work?”.
What are the benefits of one on ones?
One on ones make for happier employees
By giving everyone a chance to be heard on a regular basis, one on ones raises engagement, job satisfaction and ultimately the happiness of employees.
One on ones encourage openness and honesty
Managers showing they care about having honest and open conversations will lead to the development of an honest and open company culture in which people can do their best work.
One on ones ensure problems don't go unaddressed
By providing regular opportunities to discuss issues, one on ones ensure significant problems don't go unaddressed for long.
One on ones provide continual feedback
Many managers having regular one on ones with their reports across multiple levels of an organisation forms a continual stream of feedback that flows up the hierarchy of the organisation.
One on ones develop better relationships
The regular, meaningful conversations provided by one on ones ensure that all managers and their reports can form a meaningful and productive working relationship.