Two women sitting across from each other at a table in a one on one meeting

One on One Meetings: A Manager’s Most Powerful Tool

The word “meeting” tends to set off an internal cringe alarm. Because many meetings aren’t effective, that’s a fair response.

However, the most powerful tool you have as a manager is weekly one on one meetings with each person on your team. That’s right… weekly

If done right, this meeting can produce the most significant return for your entire organization. 

Therefore, it becomes the most important investment you make each week. 

Below, we’ll make a case for the importance of these weekly meetings, and equip you with the foundational mechanics and agenda to build out your own weekly one-on-one cadence.

A Case for Consistent One on One Meetings

In a Harvard Business Review article titled “What Great Managers Do Daily”, Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics team found this out about the impact of having consistent one-on-ones: 

“Employees who got little to no one-on-one time with their manager were more likely to be disengaged. [Conversely,] those who [received] twice the number of one-on-ones with their manager relative to their peers [were] 67% less likely to be disengaged.”

They also found that there was never a point where spending too much time with employees resulted in lower engagement. 

Disengagement has a direct and significant impact on your ability as a manager to deliver business results. It’s estimated to have a $3.5 billion impact on American businesses due to low performance. Failing to have weekly one-on-ones with your team only increases disengagement. 

Along with disengagement, employees who don’t meet regularly with their managers, 

“are two times as likely to view leadership more unfavorably compared with those who [do]”?

Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report highlights that engagement is highly unlikely if people don’t feel like they can talk with their manager. 

The one-on-one meeting is the space where you can create a safe space built on trust each week. Here the people on your team start to feel like they can approach you and share information.

Mechanics of Your One on One Meetings

Now that we’ve built the case for weekly one-on-ones, let’s dive into what a great meeting looks like. Below is a suggested structure for success.

Who to invite:

  • each of your direct reports

How often to hold the meeting: 

  • weekly for maximum impact 

How long to make the meeting:

  • no longer than (30) minutes 

Standard Agenda for One on One Meetings 

Relational Connection (10 Minutes)

  • Ask: How are you doing? Follow up on previous questions or things you know are going on in their lives
  • Ask: What’s on your mind? Invitation for them to bring up what’s top of mind for them (can be inside or outside of work)

Priority & Support Alignment (10 Minutes)

  • Ask: What’s your most important task for this week? How are your OKRs?
  • Ask: How can I help you achieve success this week? What meaningful action can I help drive to support you this week?

Bi-Directional Feedback (10 Minutes)

  • Space for you to provide feedback, redirect priorities, share information, follow up on actions from previous meetings, etc.
  • Ask: What feedback do you have for me? How can I lead more effectively or support you better?

Consistency is Key!

Frequency beats quality when it comes to your one-on-one meetings. You’ll get better over time the longer you keep doing it. 

If you commit to weekly one-on-ones, you have (52) opportunities to drive up the quality and make it valuable for you and the people on your team.

Don’t neglect, cancel or deprioritize your one-on-one meetings. They’ll become your most powerful tool and the best source of intelligence that’ll enable you to lead your team effectively.

For more tools to increase engagement on your team, connect with a member of the Wildsparq squad to talk all things leadership development.  Or download our ebook guide below on 1-1 meetings!

A button to download an ebook about 1-1 meetings