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June 30, 2023

Everything you need to know about 1:1 meetings

Zahra Currimbhoy
Zahra Currimbhoy
Marketing, Perdoo
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min read
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Everything you need to know about 1:1 meetings

Interested in learning all about 1:1 meetings? Why they’re important? Who should be doing 1:1s? How to conduct a meaningful 1:1? Well, then you’ve come to the right place! This article will cover everything you need to know about 1:1 meetings.

What is a 1:1 meeting?

A 1:1, also known as one-to-one or one-on-one, is a regular meeting held between a manager and their direct report to discuss a wide variety of topics. 1:1s aren’t just status updates but instead are innately designed to create a safe space to discuss matters that managers and employees deem most important, on an ongoing basis.

Who should be doing 1:1s?

Every employee should have regular access to their manager so they feel heard, valued, and have an avenue to collaborate on important matters. People working remotely should also be included in the process so they don't miss out on important feedback or development opportunities.

It's worth noting that this applies equally across different levels within the organization — from C-level execs down to entry-level employees — everyone deserves equal access to these conversations regardless of their seniority or job title.

How often should you do 1:1s?

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how often you should do 1:1s. The frequency of 1:1 meetings can depend on a multitude of factors — the culture of your organization, an employee’s needs, the nature of your role, and the purpose of the 1:1 meeting, just to name a few. Gallup found, however, that engagement is highest among employees that meet with their managers at least once per week.

Having said that, everyone has their hands full, so the fewer meetings the better. For that reason, we recommend starting with a bi-weekly frequency. If you find this to be too often, reduce the frequency to monthly. If it’s too often, increase it to weekly.

If you’re using 1:1s in tandem with weekly Check-ins you might be able to reduce the frequency of your 1:1s, freeing up time in your already busy schedule. Check-ins can’t replace 1:1s but they provide a platform to share async updates that can then be discussed async or in your scheduled 1:1s.

Regardless of the frequency you use, remember that it’s important to find an appropriate balance that works for both parties involved while providing enough meaningful conversation time.

Benefits of 1:1 meetings

The importance of 1:1 meetings can't be overstated. It ultimately boils down to boosting employee engagement — which in turn can improve company-wide productivity, attendance, and profit, while reducing turnover. In fact, companies with engaged employees outperform those that don’t by 202%!

It’s said that what drives employee engagement are purpose, a caring manager, development, a focus on strengths, and ongoing conversations. And 70% of the time, managers are responsible for variances in team engagement — they’re essentially who drive engagement.

Managers, therefore, are the catalysts for employee engagement, and 1:1s are their most valuable medium to execute what it takes for their employees to do and feel their best at work. 1:1 meetings provide managers with an opportunity to adorn their coaching role, allowing them the space to cultivate healthy work relationships, align on what’s expected, discuss growth opportunities, and work through any challenges.

While employee engagement is a key outcome and benefit of 1:1s, you can expect the following benefits as well:

  • Strong working relationships

Strong relationships at work, especially between employees and their managers are key to achieving successful outcomes. Having regular and dedicated time to communicate enables you to get to know each other better and foster a healthy work rapport. This is evermore important for remote teams as 1:1s are one of the few instances where direct interaction takes place outside of email or chat.

Managers can use these meetings to identify any issues that may be affecting morale or performance. Ultimately, such meetings can result in a stronger connection between manager and employee, leading to improved engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, retention rates, and overall company culture.

  • Higher goal attainment

Accountability and diligence are key for high goal attainment. Whether it’s the employee’s personal goals, or their contributions to the team or company goals (OKRs and KPIs), having dedicated time to discuss priorities, progress, and challenges is vital to improving employee engagement and ensuring the most important work is on the right track. Align on the status of work and course-correct where needed. In that way, 1:1s  are a great way for managers to provide (almost) immediate support where needed.

  • Improved individual performance

Performance Reviews (whether quarterly, bi-annual, or annual) are the tool built to discuss overall employee performance and future career trajectories. But they just don’t happen often enough to stay on top of the more granular progressions toward career goals. Employees shouldn’t have to wait half a year to discuss their career ambitions or progress. Here’s where 1:1s help.

1:1s can’t replace Performance Reviews, but given they’re more frequent in nature, use them to facilitate development, work through growth milestones, and provide support where needed.

Conducting a 1:1 meeting

The process of conducting 1:1 meetings is pretty standard and straightforward. Typically 1:1s involve preparing and jotting down talking points around topics that are deemed important by both parties. During the meeting, these items are discussed, action items may be created accordingly, and follow-ups may be set as well.

The purpose of 1:1s may vary based on role and individual needs. However, if you’re wondering what to discuss in a 1:1 meeting, here are some topics to add to your agenda.

  • Goals (OKRs and KPIs)

1:1s shouldn’t be seen purely as status updates, but adding an agenda item that includes goal progress is a must-have. Since each person typically contributes to team OKRs and/or KPIs that are aligned with company goals, it’s important to understand how your direct report is progressing. If a goal isn’t progressing as planned, use 1:1s to discuss what it would take to bring it back on track and recalibrate your goals accordingly.

You can also use this focused time to set goals like OKRs and KPIs, that are aligned with the company strategy and prioritize the work that matters most.

  • Review Check-ins

A Check-in at Perdoo includes more than just a goals update — you also have a Pulse survey to see how the person feels at work, as well as Reflections to understand what they’ve achieved in the week and what their upcoming challenges are. Check-ins ensure you’re fully up to date with your direct reports’ progress, how they feel, and if they need any support. Reviewing these during or prior to a 1:1 provides you with most of the context you need to make sure they perform well at work.

  • Career growth check-ins

Employee development is key to ensuring your people are reaching their full potential. In doing so, you may have created a career development plan or set achievable milestones during a previous Performance Review. Invest time in understanding how they’re getting there, if they need any additional resources, and mentor them where required.

  • Address issues or concerns

A 1:1 should be a safe environment to not only bring up any challenges or blockers arising from projects but also workplace issues or concerns. Make sure to focus on solutions instead of finger-pointing.

  • Feedback

1:1 meetings are a great opportunity for team members to offer constructive feedback on how the manager, team, and/or company can improve. And vice versa. Make sure to listen carefully and address any points raised in the meeting.

  • Celebrate successes and milestones

A simple act of recognition can do wonders to boost employee engagement. A 1:1 provides a great opportunity to celebrate hard work and efforts put into achieving goals.

Making 1:1s meaningful

A 1:1 is only a good meeting if you can have a meaningful conversation with your manager or direct report. To have a meaningful conversation, you need to have appropriate context. This is exactly why it can be so valuable to manage and keep track of your 1:1s in a tool like Perdoo — as we can surface all that context for you.

Your company’s strategy and its goals already live in Perdoo. That’s the high-level context. On a more granular level, your people lead OKRs and KPIs that help your company execute its strategy and goals. Via regular Check-ins, individuals not only update progress on their goals, but they also report on how they feel at work through the integrated Pulse survey, and share all the critical work they’re doing or any blockers they’re facing in Reflections. All of this is important context for managers and 1:1s in Perdoo surface all that information.

You can easily add talking points, action items, shared and private notes in each individual meeting, but most importantly in the panel on the right you have all the above-stated context. On one page. Context is key!

Conducting 1:1s

Discussing OKR or KPI-related progress? Refer to all the goals the individual leads within the given timeframe. Want to discuss that project-related challenge mentioned in their Reflections? Pull up their most recent Check-in. They’ve reported they aren’t feeling good at work. Revolve your meeting around gaining feedback and discussing what would make things better. And last but not least, want to acknowledge all their recent hard work? Celebrate all the Kudos they’ve received from you or other peers.

Curious to see how 1:1s work in Perdoo? Log in to our pre-populated demo environment here.

1:1s in a nutshell

1:1s are regular meetings between a manager and their direct reports. They’re essential for fostering strong working relationships between managers and their direct reports by creating an environment where both sides feel listened to and respected. Regular meetings provide valuable insights into individual performance and goals whilst offering opportunities for growth, feedback, and personal development. By ensuring every staff member has access to these conversations regardless of seniority/job title etc., leaders can create better trust and understanding amongst their teams, leading to higher engagement, productivity levels, job satisfaction rates, etc.


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