5 Simple Rules for Effective One-on-One Meetings

Effective One-on-One Meetings are Imperative

Effective One-on-One Meetings are Imperative

[Tweet “5 Simple Rules for Effective One-on-One #Meetings”]

Rule 1:  You must Have One-on-One Meetings!!

No, no…PLEASE…not another meeting!!  If you are like most managers, you are running from meeting to meeting and can’t imagine fitting one more in your schedule.

I was recently had this conversation with an organization that I am consulting with.  I am coaching three of the senior managers and we are working extremely hard to turn around their negative culture.  The ship is starting to right, but it won’t without developing strong relationships between the managers and the staff.  Having regular one-on-one meetings with the staff is really the only way to do that.  Effective.  Efficient.

But…I talk to my staff all the time.  They bop into my office whenever they want!  Sorry, but it is not the same.  Don’t believe me?  Then listen to this podcast on Manager Tools.com  that one of my clients told me about.  They also have a link for a handy downloadable form to prepare and track your meetings.

Rule 2:  Make your One-on-One Meetings a Standing Meeting on your Calendar.

Your one-one-one meetings need to be a regularly scheduled meetings on your calendar.   Why is that?  So that they happen!  If it is not scheduled, your calendar (and theirs) will fill up and the meetings won’t happen.

But I can’t fit in all those meetings.  You can.  This may surprise you, but these meetings will actually save you time.  When you limit all the interruptions from people bopping into your office to ask you questions (which they can now save for their one-on-one with you) you will have a lot of quality time that you didn’t have before!

Rule 3:  Make your One-on-One Meetings Regular

I recommend weekly, but bi-weekly is OK, especially if you have a lot of direct reports.  The bottom line is:  your one-on-one meetings need to be meetings that people can count on.  They need to know that how they are doing is a priority for you and that you will be ensuring that these meetings take place.

If you are meeting regularly, your one-on-one meetings can be as short as a ½ hour.  If they are focused with an agenda, you will accomplish what you want in a half hour.  Is a half hour every two weeks too much time to be spending with your direct reports?

Rule 4: One-on-One Meetings are NOT Development Conversations!

Sometimes managers think the purpose of one-on-one meetings is to have development or goal setting conversations with their direct reports.  Actually, the purpose of the one-on-ones is to make a personal and individual connection between you and your direct report; the meetings establish a rapport that will build trust and understanding across the organization.

One of the most transformative outcomes of one-one-one meetings is developing the level of understanding between you and the individuals on your team.  When important actions need to be taken in your organization, your direct reports will be competent to act nimbly and flexibly and you will have the confidence that they know what you think.

Rule 5:  Design your Meetings so that they are Appreciative.

[Tweet “The key to great #meetings is being #Appreciative”]

Structure the time that you have in the one-on-one so that have mutual benefit: you discuss what you want and your direct report also has time to discuss what they want.  This is a time for you to not only learn about what is going on in your direct report’s work life but in their personal life too.

Why is that important?  It is important, because when people are valued for all that they bring to the job, they feel a greater sense of purpose and meaning.

One of the people that I coach told me how disappointed she was that her boss knew nothing about some important foundation work she was doing outside of the job.  She believed that the boss didn’t care about her work outside of the organization, which really meant that he didn’t care about her in her mind.  You do care about your direct reports—they will believe it if you take the time and interest to learn appreciate what they are doing in their life.

QUESTION:  Do you have one-on-one meetings as a manager or as a direct report with your boss?  If so, how do you do to get the most value out of them?

If you would like other management coaching support, please call me for a free complimentary session at 805.448.7681 or schedule a session using my on-line calendar.



p.s. I always am interested in what you think about these discussions. Please post your thoughts on the blog…your constructive criticism and support is appreciated!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach

Your MOJO Maven

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US.   Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry.  She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves.  An MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment.



  1. Calla Gold on November 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I really like the way you lay out the why and how a one-on-one meeting should go.
    There are a lot of meetings going on that make one think they are just a time suck.
    But a meeting structured like yours would help the culture of the business and help get everyone going in the same direction.
    Great succinct steps.
    Calla Gold

    • Executive Coach on November 7, 2011 at 4:00 am

      It is true that having one-on-one meetings will support developing a healthy organizational culture because they foster developing relationships of trust. Thanks for reading my blog!

  2. Renee Manseau on November 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    This is a great article! One on one meetings are a great way to keep everyone on track, accountable, and just plain old in touch with one another. I love how you broke it down. Ultimately, the meetings are a terrific way to build up a relationship, and relationships make the world go round.

    • Executive Coach on November 7, 2011 at 4:02 am

      Thanks Renee for your comment! Being in touch with another seems unimportant in the scheme of things, but at the end of the day it probably is the most important factor in a great organization. Glad you found the post useful!

Leave a Comment