What's the Best One on One Meeting Agenda? Here's a Template
One-on-one meetings offer a special opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your team members. If you want to elevate yourself from a good to a great manager, aim to host weekly meetings with each employee on top of any recurring team meetings you currently hold.
One-on-ones can verge on micromanaging, especially if they turn into status updates. Since that type of work is better done asynchronously, one-on-ones should devote time to:
- Career development
- Check-ins about work-life balance
- Discussions to resolve and remove blockers
Let’s break down some discussion points to improve your one-on-one meetings.
One-one-one meeting agenda template
A solid one-on-one agenda will keep your meeting on track, minimize wasted time, and prompt the manager to be as helpful as possible.
You likely won’t have time for all of the following topics of discussion every week. Feel free to mix and match the following agenda items:
- Check in about personal life and work-life balance
- Review critical status updates from the past week
- Discuss blockers to the employee’s performance
- Exchange constructive feedback
- Practice goal-setting for the upcoming week
- Discuss long-term career goals
- Answer any additional meeting questions
- Recap and write down action items
- Schedule your follow-up meeting
Before we dive deeper into each of these items, let’s take a step back and look at the benefits of one-on-one meetings.
Are one-on-one meetings actually necessary?
Yes. People don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Employees are significantly more likely to actually apply for a new job if they feel like their current manager doesn’t care or provide enough feedback. 82% of people say that they would consider leaving a job if they had a bad manager.
A 2021 Gallup poll revealed US employee engagement dropped for the first year in a decade. Only 34% of employees feel engaged in the workplace by the end of 2021. One-on-one meetings are key to engagement: they offer managers the opportunity to form genuine connections with your employees and show them that you value their time and effort.
Regular one-on-ones improve interpersonal relationships, lead to more effective problem solving, and increase overall morale. They also offer a great opportunity to onboard new employees with care, ensuring they have enough information and support while settling in.
What’s the difference between a one-on-one meeting and a performance review?
One-on-one meetings and performance reviews both let managers and direct reports exchange feedback.
The primary difference between a one-on-one and a performance review is that a performance review often takes place once or twice a year. It’s also officially documented and put on file. One-on-one meetings are more regular and informal. They typically occur weekly or bi-weekly and don’t get put in an employee’s official file.
Performance reviews often come with a lot of pressure. Hosting frequent casual one-on-ones removes some of this pressure because employees get feedback regularly, not just once a year.
What makes a good one-on-one meeting?
We’ve already said that a good one-on-one meeting needs an agenda, and we’ll dive into that more in the next section. But it takes more than an agenda to host an effective one-on-one.
A great one-on-one accomplished two major things:
Your employee feels seen as a human. You and your team members take time to talk about what’s happening outside of work, how work feels (aka work-life balance), long-term goals, and how the employee feels with the rest of the team.
The employee leaves the one-on-one with some actionable, tangible goals or changes. These goals could be a plan to implement new training, remove a blocker, or change a process. It could be constructive feedback about how to do something better. It could be a new skill or approach you gave to help them solve a problem.
As we said before, a one-on-one is not a status update. If you use one-on-ones to keep track of whether your employees are getting their work done, you’re belittling them and forfeiting an opportunity to improve their work and experience within the company.
You can chat about updates in one-on-one meetings, but keep it brief. It’s better to use email or a project tracking tool for that.
Check in about personal life and work-life balance
Dedicate time during the meeting to bond as people. Let your direct report know you understand their personal life is not completely separate from work. Some weeks, this may consist of a minute of small talk. Other weeks, it may take up the majority of the meeting.
Let them vent about their kids’ crazy schedules. Let them gush about a hobby they’re passionate about. Let them tell you they’re tired and feel like they need a long vacation. Space for this kind of conversation lets your employee feel seen and human. They might also give you insight into the kind of support your employee needs.
Don’t be afraid to share how you’re feeling as well. If the employee feels like they’re talking to a robot with toxic positivity, they may feel like they can’t turn to you for support. Remember, your working relationship isn’t just business. You have to care about your employees as people.
Review critical status updates from the past week
As you transition from personal to work-related topics, start by discussing high-priority tasks and goals you and your employee set the previous week. Note-taking will come in handy here because you can reference the notes from your last meeting to ask them if they were able to accomplish their action items.
These updates shouldn’t take much time—use your one-on-one meetings to discuss major updates only. More detailed updates should be saved for an asynchronous channel so you can make the most of the time you have with your employee.
Discuss blockers to the employee’s performance
When your employee isn’t able to accomplish everything on their list, ask questions to understand the obstacles that prevented them from getting their tasks done.
Frame employee setbacks as opportunities for improving systems and processes. This removes blame and allows you two to talk through the roadblocks and brainstorm how you can move past them.
Exchange constructive feedback
Notice how we said “exchange feedback.” You’ll take the time to give your employees constructive feedback and suggest areas for development, and then you’ll open the floor for them to do the same for you.
Many of your employees won’t feel comfortable giving you constructive feedback right away, but the more you give them the chance to speak their mind, the more they’ll build trust with you and be willing to let you know how to help them.
But here’s the thing: if you invite them to give constructive feedback, you need to actually listen to what they have to say. Don’t argue with them (“Oh, but I would never…”) and take some time to reflect on whether you can apply their suggestion.
Practice goal-setting for the upcoming week
Now that you’re both caught up on the previous week, you can work together to set goals for the upcoming week.
Make sure these are SMART goals:
Especially if your employee is junior, help them determine steps to achieve these goals. The more specific you and your team member can be, the better.
Discuss long-term career goals
Use one-on-one meetings to understand your employee’s professional goals, even long-term goals beyond your company. If you want to demonstrate your support, you can keep an eye out for learning opportunities to help your team members hone the career development skills that will help them achieve their long-term career development goals.
Some businesses shy away from helping their employees develop their long term career goals, but research consistently demonstrates that investing in an employee’s skills and career development makes them less likely to leave the company prematurely.
If you ignore their long-term career goals, they’re more likely to leave as soon as they have the chance and say negative things about your company. Help them move toward their goals, and they’ll stick around until they get their dream opportunity and talk highly about your company even after they leave.
Answer any additional meeting questions
Before you wrap up your meeting, give your team member the chance to ask additional questions that popped up in their head. Giving them the floor ensures that they get what they need out of your time together.
Recap and write down action items
Managers should take notes in a shared document during the one-on-one to let the employee be as present as possible. Review the meeting’s major takeaways and make sure you have action items in writing to keep your team member informed and accountable.
Schedule your follow up meeting
Before you let them go, schedule your next meeting. Sometimes, this will be as easy as “Same time next week?” Other times, you’ll have to whip out your Google calendars to find a free thirty minutes somewhere.
Organize your one-on-ones with Roots’ Slack plugin
Keeping one-on-one notes organized can quickly lead to chaos. That’s why we developed a better way to tackle one-on-ones.
Roots’ Slack plugins aim to enhance your company culture, simply. Our 1-on-1s plugin helps you better prepare for, conduct, and track your weekly check-ins.
Our plugin will sync up with your calendar and create a shared Slack channel to store your notes from previous meetings to make them easily accessible for your next check-in. You can set talking points, review the summary of the previous meeting, and give and receive real-time feedback, all within Slack.
Seem like something you could use? Check it out and streamline your one-on-one meetings today.