Tips to Keep Your One-on-One Meeting Productive

June 30, 2021
4 Min Read
Photo by
Huī Lín

Key Takeaways 

  • During this one-on-one meeting, the two people take time to exchange feedback, give updates, discuss roadblocks, and even talk about professional growth. 
  • Before meeting items include scheduling and creating an agenda
  • The heart of the meeting requires wellness checks and feedback exchanges,
  • And the end of the meeting includes follow up from both parties.
  • See more stories on Matter's blog.

What is a one-on-one meeting?

A one-on-one meeting, also known as 1:1, is a regularly scheduled check-in between two teammates. In many cases, it’s between a manager and a peer. During this one-on-one meeting, the two people take time to exchange feedback, give updates, discuss roadblocks, and even talk about professional growth. 

Benefits of one-on-one meetings

As a team member, one-on-one meetings are an opportunity to get actionable and constructive feedback to help you flourish in your role. Instead of waiting for an annual review, being proactive and seeking feedback from your manager will give you time to implement that feedback quickly into your day-to-day tasks.  

As a people manager, one-on-one meetings are a chance to provide guidance and build strong bonds. Not to mention, it’s a valuable opportunity to seek feedback as a leader. While these pulse checks are related to work, they’re also an opportunity to do wellness check-ins to ensure your team is feeling burnout. To create those strong connections with your team, ensure there is a balance between professional and personal development. 

Whatever side of the one-on-one meeting you’re on, it’s vital to dedicate time and be present during those one-on-one conversations.

Before the one-on-one meeting

There’s some prep work before you head into your one-on-one meeting. Here’s what we recommend so you and your teammate can have a successful and productive meeting. 

  • Schedule meetings. First and foremost, make sure you scheduled a meeting between you and your teammate for your one-on-one meeting. Use Google Calendar to set weekly meetings. In the meeting description, jot down Zoom details and a high-level agenda. Be sure to check with the other person with time and date, so your meeting doesn’t conflict with a prior commitment.
  • Create an agenda. For a seamless meeting, plan out the meetings. That means creating an agenda with high-level topics and a clear vision of what needs to be conquered for the workweek. Pro-tip: If you create an agenda, try sending it early so your peer has time to review and add to the list of topics.

The meat of the one-on-one meeting

Now that you're in the meat of the conversations, this is where navigating all the topics can get tricky. With the help of the guidance of the agenda and our tips, here's how you can make the most of your one-on-one meeting.

  • Soft intros. Before getting into brass tacks, start with soft check-ins. Ask each other how the week is going, what plans they had over the weekend, or just how they’re feeling overall. Part of diving into a one-on-one meeting is creating a space for both the people will allow authenticity and vulnerability to flow throughout the conversations.
  • Wellness check. Remember, your teammates are much more than their titles at work. And they’re not machines. Make time to check in with your peers on a personal level and see how they’re doing outside of work.
  • Ask for updates. Depending on the flow of the agendas, the best way to utilize the meeting is to get status updates on any ongoing projects. Or even discuss roadblocks that the other person may be facing. This is a great opportunity to discuss challenges, figure out why your peer may be stuck, and find collaborative solutions.
  • Feedback exchange. There should always be an expectation to give and receive feedback from both parties during a one-on-one meeting. Take time to give constructive, actionable feedback on areas of improvement. In the same vein, don’t forget to give Kudos and recognize the wins. 
  • Take notes. Throughout the one-on-one meeting, be sure to take notes of decisions, deliverables, and feedback. Not only will it help for historical context but taking notes can drive the discussion to be more actionable. 

The aftermath of the one-on-one meeting

Yes, there's homework after your one-on-one meeting. Prepping for the end of the meeting will ensure a more seamless experience for your next one-on-one.

  • Create action items. This item can also be placed in the heart of the meeting, but each meeting should end with a set of clear expectations, deliverables, and action items for the following week. 
  • Send notes. Once all the notes have been compiled and organized, send the notes to the other person. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and clear up confusion when heading into the next week.
  • Follow up. One-on-ones only work when they’re consistent. Keep this commitment and you will create effective feedback exchanges, build stronger connections, and real change in your peer’s professional and personal development.
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