Effective Ways to Conduct one-on-one Meetings

Team Kritikalhire

April 5th, 2023   
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An employee is any company’s biggest asset, and he/she needs to be mentored or guided from time to time in order to achieve the collective goals and objectives. When a company invests time and planning the resources to execute the “one-on-one” meetings, every employee feels belongs and is nurtured.

According to Andy Grove, former CEO & co-founder of Intel, “90 minutes of your time can enhance the quality of your subordinate’s work for 2 weeks, or for some 80+ hours.” A good manager always believes that hearing your employee’s opinions matters. A one-on-one meeting is probably the best way to make it happen. Yet, there are chances to get started on the wrong foot with common mistakes managers make during 1-on-1 meetings. Nirvi B, in her article “Top 6 mistakes managers make during one-on-one meetings”, tries to emphasize the effective ways to manage one-on-one meetings.  

According to her, “asking for status reports on some projects” is among the most common one-on-one meeting questions. Even though it sometimes serves value to the meeting, a manager must avoid this mistake. Asking for reports should not be the objective of one-on-one meetings; any other schedule must be planned for that.

The objective of these meetings should be to understand the challenges and difficulties all the employees face related to the tasks given. If used effectively, one-on-one meetings can be a platform for growth and development. It can serve as a fruitful medium of 2-sided communication. Mentoring, assessing, and evaluating an employee’s performance increases the overall efficiency of the company as a whole, and such meetings will be the best way possible to achieve it.

Managers, in some cases, may take these meetings for granted. Some alarming stats are mentioned in a report by “Know Your Team”, 36% of employees believe their manager is only "slightly prepared," while 40% believe their manager is "not prepared at all.” We know that the goal of one-on-one is to solve workplace conflicts, if any. But without a clear agenda, the value of a discussion will suffer. 

One of the authors, Ben Horowitz, says, “During the meeting since it’s the employee’s meeting, the manager should do 10% of the talking and 90% of the listening. Note that this is the opposite of most one-on-ones.”  Even Margaret Moore, CEO of Wellcoaches Corporation, says having an efficient 1-on-1 meeting software with managers "requires real cognitive agility." By this, she emphasizes the importance of ‘active listening’ for effective one-on-one meetings. As Nirvi B mentions, to promote and practice ‘active listening,’ managers should encourage employees to prepare particular discussion points. Also, they can suggest and put forth some open-ended questions to make employees feel comfortable and get them thinking about their answers. By bringing employees’ concerns and points to the forefront, a manager can achieve the goal of effective one-on-one meetings.

One major issue that happens in a meeting is distractions, which can cause a waste of time and content from the employees’ side, which has to be taken care of by the managers. Checking e-mails or attending phone calls continuously might break the flow of information and result in a loss of motivation.

Sometimes emergencies are understood, but if it is a continuous occurrence, it can get irritating, and employees may lose interest. Shutting notifications off, keeping the calendar occupied, and ensuring active attention is required to stay mentally present. 

Generally, one-on-one meetings are completed just for the sake of completion; managers are always in a hurry to finish the discussion without giving proper time to the context. If a manager keeps the discussion very fast-paced, then he/she might lose the opportunity to understand employees’ genuine problems.

When a senior cancels a 15–30-minute conversation, it might tell your junior they're not a priority. You may find the employees trying to communicate in an indirect manner, either via emails or through some other employee. When a manager sets his/her juniors as a priority, the juniors feel required and respected.

One study by Gallup claims that employees whose managers meet with them on a regular basis are nearly three times as likely to bring employee engagement whose managers do not meet with them on a regular basis. When a manager constantly practices the habit of conducting such meetings, it demonstrates value to it. When an employer builds a culture where the staff is mentored and motivated, productivity and longevity both are increased. 

To add to this, Sabahet Amjad, in her article “15 One-on-One Meeting Mistakes to Avoid,” mentions a few more situations where one-on-one meetings can go wrong and drift away from the objective. According to her, not following up after the meeting is a cause of not-so-fruitful one-on-one meetings. Once the meeting is done, managers feel their job is done, and till the next meeting, nothing much happens on a conversational front between manager and employee. In short, for a one-on-one meeting to be 100% useful, one must focus on following up and showing genuine concern to solve the issues if any. 

Sabahet also suggests conducting one-on-one meetings in not-so-formal places like cafeterias or company lawn areas can make the communication interesting and it can add to the motivation from both parties.

To conclude, a one-on-one meeting can have an immense impact on the morale of a team. But, to get the benefits out of it will require detailing and investing time in planning, designing, and executing the process. 


  • Nirvi B - (December 26, 2022) - Top 6 mistakes managers make during one-on-one meetings - https://www.peoplehum.com/blog/top-6-mistakes-managers-make-during-1-on-1-meetings
  • Sabahet Amjad - 15 One-on-One Meeting Mistakes to Avoid - https://www.peoplebox.ai/blog/15-one-on-one-meeting-mistakes/



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