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One-on-One Meetings with Your Manager

One-on-One Meetings with Your Manager: Important Dos and Don’ts

by Francesca Dosayla on and last update on March 18, 2020

Your day in the office is busy enough without wasting time in dreary, time consuming meetings, right? It’s common for many employees to want to avoid meetings at all costs, simply to get through their to do lists.

But here’s one type of meeting that both leaders and subordinates should prioritize: one-on-one meetings between employees and managers.

Let’s summarize the essentials of 1-on-1 meetings so you can start using this as a powerful tool to reach personal, career and company objectives. Imagine a 2020 where you reach all you goals!


Why are 1-on-1 Meetings Important?

A one-on-one meeting is quite different from other get-togethers between team members. This is the time where a manager and a subordinate build rapport. Why is this important? Because trust creates loyalty to the company, sparks more productivity, and improves the office environment.

It’s also the time where you talk about work details that you often don’t get time for or that aren’t relevant to others in the team. These are often forgotten during other meetings.

Some may argue that it’s primarily managers’ responsibility to set and manage one-on-one meetings with staff members. But in reality, all team members have the power to improve the working environment. And as an employee you can start such a process by requesting 1-on-1 meetings on a regular basis.

Here’s your first tip: remember to reschedule if one gets cancelled!


What Should a 1-on-1 Meeting Look Like?

When you hear the word ‘meeting’ you probably imagine what usually happens at meetings: discussing projects and debating about how to solve problems.

But one-on-one meetings can take a completely different approach resulting in dynamic get-togethers that produce beneficial results for both parties.


How to Optimize Your Next 1-on-1 Meeting

Why not suggest some of these as talking points every time you get together?

  • Coaching opportunities: It’s important for employees to feel they’re growing, so discuss mentorship with your manager. Employees can learn a lot from their managers regarding life or work. Managers may be distracted by work pressure; they can’t always prioritize coaching. But asking specific questions during a one-on-one meeting can spark an interesting discussion and some wisdom-sharing. If your manager doesn’t have the insight you need, perhaps they can refer you to someone else in the company.
  • Getting personal: At first you may feel vulnerable sharing personal challenges or news about your family life, but it’s important to make the relationship less clinical. You and your manager will trust each other more if your relationship isn’t purely based on work topics.
  • Your career: As mentioned, growth is important to all employees. Talk to your manager about your dreams for your career, because you can’t assume he or she knows what your aspirations are. They may know of job opportunities opening up in the company. Managers will also appreciate your desire to grow, which once again builds trust. You may be given more responsibilities and get more experience.
  • The company in general: Your manager should empower you to perform your tasks and if there are obstacles, you can mention it in this private conversation. Perhaps there’s a personality clash with a colleague or you want the company to provide the right resources. You can also ask about the company itself, such as bad rumors you’ve heard or what the company’s vision is. Clarify details that affect how you feel about your workplace.

If your manager doesn’t initiate these discussions, it’s up to you to add the talking points to the agenda.


What NOT to do During a 1-on-1 Meeting

Your 1-on-1 meeting is NOT there to update your manager on work done. That can easily be done at other meetings, or by sending an email with the latest feedback.


How to Ensure Results

It’s essential that there is a manner of record keeping, even though some of the talking points seem informal. At the next meeting, these notes will help your manager remember what has been discussed so you don’t waste time reminding him or her. You can offer to keep notes of the meeting and email them afterwards, or suggest your manager keep notes for future reference.

Part of these notes can be a summary of what both parties commit to, based on the discussion. The understanding should be that both will report back or produce the results during the next one-on-one meeting, such as:

  • A manager looking into resolving obstacles in the workflow.
  • An employee providing a list of workshops he or she wants to attend for personal or career development.
  • A manager’s feedback after finding out about career opportunities within the company.


Don’t make a one-on-one meeting simply something you have to cross off your to do list. When you and your manager get it right, this get together can positively impact your personal life as well as your department and company as a whole.


What is the first thing you’re going to do to get it right in 2020?

Management, Productivity, and Leadership
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