• Jonathan Bullock

How to make the most of one-on-one conversations



One-on-one meetings between leaders and their management team members are a great opportunity for concentrated conversation. They foster engagement, transparency and mentoring; in short, they're the glue that holds together the company's vision and objectives.


In this fast-paced world, we rarely take the time to properly interact with one another. One-on-ones are a great way to exchange feedback, reset priorities, understand wellness issues and engage in collaborative thinking.


Your duty as a manager is to listen, ask questions, offer comments and share ideas.


It's also vital to remember the power dynamic in these sessions. As the manager, you have more influence, which means you have greater responsibility for understanding how your role affects these interactions. How can you make your subordinates feel secure and heard? In what ways could you use your position to speak on their behalf?


Here are some questions you could ask to ensure your next one-on-one is productive and your employee feels valued:

Clarity is the goal

  • What don't I know that I should?

  • What information do you need from me?

  • What efforts or choices do you want additional information about?

Give and receive feedback

  • What kind of feedback have you had recently? Are there any recurring themes?

  • What areas do you need further input on?

  • What is something I could do differently or more of?

  • What are you not expressing that you could share?

  • What are you expressing or seeing that I'm not understanding?

Make goal progress, adjust objectives and identify roadblocks

  • What is working well regarding your objectives? What could be better?

  • How could you make your goals and objectives more straightforward?

  • Where do you feel stymied, trapped or challenged?

Agree on the following actions

  • What do you want to finish by our next one-on-one?

  • How can I help you be effective?

Check-in on wellness

  • Where are you flourishing? What type of work de-energises you?

  • What are your thoughts on your present workload?

  • What has to change for you to feel at your best?


TAKEAWAY: While one-on-ones are easy to disregard or accept half-heartedly, one-on-ones provide the foundation for improved interpersonal relationships between a leader and their team.


Many crucial discussions in your company take place in this space. The rhythm, consistency and contents of your time together impact your team members' experiences inside the company and their future progress.


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