6 Ways to Maximize One-on-One Meetings

Published August 22, 2018

Leadership requires us to invest in our people–communicate things to them, teach them, facilitate their success, etc. One of the best ways that I’ve found to do this in a formal way is through my one-on-one meetings. There are some structural things that help me maximize the value of these one-on-ones for me:

1. Meet regularly.

For some employees, this is weekly. For others it is bi-weekly or even once a month. But, they need to be scheduled regularly and predictably. In other words, if they’re weekly, plan them at the same time and on the same day each week. The frequency of the one-on-ones should be based on performance and scope of work. If an employee does a complex job that brings new things each week, it might make sense to meet weekly. if an employee repeats tasks each week, it may make sense to meet only once a month. And if the employee is doing an excellent job, the meeting may need to be less frequent.

2. Make it personal.

One-on-ones are a great time to ask your employee(s) how they’re doing. In fact, I try to make this the first thing we talk about. If the meetings are only about work, then we miss a great opportunity to get to know our employees better and to find out if there are outside pressures that may impact their jobs. Plus, it lets the employee know you care about them and they’re not just a worker, but someone that you value.

Let the employee know you care about them and they’re not just a worker, but someone that you value.

3. Start with them.

I always allow the employee to start with agenda items that they have come to the meeting with. It seems somewhat counterintuitive because we often want to make sure that our agenda items get covered first, but I’ve found this puts the employee in the driver seat and allows them to set the tone. Often, they will cover many of the things that I intended to cover anyway. This is also another way to help them understand that they are important and what concerns/ideas/questions they have are a priority to you.

4. Write it down.

I use a software program called Wunderlist as my shared to-do list with each of my employees. This allows me to add things as I see them and then review them with the employee as we meet during these one-on-ones. It is also the system that I add to as we discuss things and recognize things that need to be done. This will help you get the meeting started well and help you feel confident that goals will be accomplished.

5. Follow up.

I’ve heard it said that you have to inspect what you expect. If you assign a task, you should follow up to make sure that it gets done. For some employees, this means simply checking the shared to-do list to see that it’s done. For others, this means physically going and checking in on the items to ensure their completion. But, regardless you must use these one-on-ones as a time to follow up on previous tasks and items.

Use your one-on-one time for the two of you to get on the same page—vision, tasks, purpose, and outcomes.

6. Get on the same page.

As things are added to a to-do list or tasks are shared over email or text, it can be difficult for an employee to see things as you see them or to fully align with your vision for the organization. One-on-ones are good times to take a walk to a place in the building so you can share vision, or a time for you to pull up a website and show them your expectations about a project, and so on. Use it as a time for the two of you to get on the same page—vision, tasks, purpose, outcomes, etc.


The more you’re able to invest in your people in these ways, the better relationships you will have and the more productive your team will be!

About the Author(s)
Tim Parsons serves as lead pastor at The Journey Church outside Indianapolis, a host site for the GLS. His passion is to help people lead better—at work and at home.

Tim Parsons

Lead Pastor

The Journey Church (Indianapolis, IN)

Tim Parsons serves as lead pastor at The Journey Church outside Indianapolis. With a passion to help people lead better at work and at home, his church has been a longtime partner with us as a Premier Host for The Global Leadership Summit. He is the co-author of the new devotional for men, Equipping the Warrior and author of the soon to be released 40-day devotional on spiritual health, The Journey. You can  connect with Tim at timparsons.me.