Effective 1-on-1s

May 20, 2018

You’re in yet another boring 1-on-1 meeting. It seems like all you do is go over random updates, or just chat about life. You could be using this time to do real work instead!

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The 1-on-1 meeting, when done right, can be the most powerful tool for building alignment and clarity in teams. If you’re a manager, you need to be using them to their full potential, otherwise you are flying blind. You might still make it to your destination, but you’ll smash into a lot of obstacles on the way. Even if you’re not a manager, you should understand the support you should be getting (it’s up to you whether you want to ask for it).

Luckily, doing them well is pretty straightforward. Focus on building better habits, and then practice, practice, practice.

Let’s dive in.

Keep regular meetings

Listen more, talk less

Address the elephant in the room

Take the temperature

Track performance

Follow up

I recommend sending out emails every meeting for the following:

If you wish to automate the above, consider using an online 1-on-1 management tool. There are a few out there, but the one I’ve used with success is Lighthouse (if you do sign up, tell em I sent you!).

Be sure to actually review the previous action items in the next meeting. Doing so sets the expectation that you are both going to follow-up on any commitments made. In turn, this reinforces the value of the meetings to both parties.



Hopefully you’ve gotten a sense of how important 1-on-1s are for your organization. Try applying a new technique for a couple weeks, and see how it works for you. The best path to long-term improvement is iterative changes.

What other techniques have you employed with success? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!


Interested in getting some hands-on guidance in implementing these techniques? I currently offer strategic consulting services to help individuals and teams reach their full potential.

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