How to get the most out of your one-to-one meetings


As teams continue to adjust to the realities of heading back to the office, there are many things that are coming back into focus. One of these things is the ‘one-to-one’ meeting. Many leaders know just how important these meetings are, but the disruption of the past two years has, for some leaders, seen them take a backseat. It’s time to get back to checking in and there’s plenty leaders can be doing to get the most out of these meetings. 

What is the purpose of a one-to-one meeting? 

With calendars jam-packed full of Zoom meetings, coffee catch-ups and plenty of other meetings, it’s easy to relegate one-to-ones as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a necessity. Every leader should be taking these meetings seriously. 

They are a great opportunity to check in with your team, away from a group setting. People are more likely to be honest, to bring up concerns and to give their managers an insight into their own experiences within the team, providing a better view of what’s really going on. 

Three things to help you get more out of your one-to-ones

Consistent – one-to-ones don’t need to happen every week but they do need to be regular and consistent. Knowing that you’ve carved out time for them in your diary helps your team feel valued and also gives them time to prepare, so they can get the most out of the meeting too. 

It’s important to remember that these meetings are not to be treated the same as performance reviews that only happen once or twice a year. One-to-ones should be consistent and regular – their consistency helps leaders to build invaluable trust over time.

Flexible – While setting a regular time is important, it’s also important to recognise that work life can be busy and it might mean you need to postpone your one-to-one meeting. When this happens, remember to reschedule straight away. 

If you don’t, time can get away from you and before you know it, it could be three months before you get a chance to sit down together – in this time, your team member might have been dwelling on an issue without an opportunity to discuss it and it may be the catalyst for them to look for another position elsewhere, all without your knowledge. Rescheduling straight away shows your team you’re committed to talking with them and ensures you won’t be leaving it too long to make time for them.

Intentional – it’s easy to catch up with your team throughout the day but do not mistake these everyday interactions as substitutes for intentional one-to-one meetings. Think deeply about the feedback you want to give, both positive and constructive, listen carefully to what your employee has to say and follow up with any actions that need to be taken by either party. Ask your team how they are feeling about their role and what you can do to help them with their career in your organisation. 

When leaders are intentional about one-to-ones, it’s natural that team members will also see them as an opportunity to be intentional about the things they share and discuss in these meetings. 

The reality is that the new generation of workers are motivated by different things – money and tenure are not always the key motivators for staying with an organisation. Leaders need to do a lot more to make sure that their employees are happy – listening to them, supporting their professional development and understanding the things that are important to them. One-to-one meetings are a great way to keep this dialogue open, giving everyone an opportunity to thrive. 

Want to get more out of your one-to-one meetings? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.