Better Meetings

How to have successful 1 on 1 meetings

One on one meetings are a great way to improve your work flow, but they need to be done right. Here's how to have successful ones with your employees, clients, or even friends!

Be prepared.

On the day of your meeting, you should be prepared. Have an agenda and a list of questions and topics to discuss with your coworker. If possible, have a rough idea of how long the meeting will take. If not, make sure that you schedule enough time for it in case it runs over. Also, if possible, prepare a list of follow up actions that either party might need to take after the meeting is over (like scheduling another 1on1 or sending each other information).

Getting ready for your 1:1s means being ready for any feedback that may come from them—and knowing how to deal with criticism in general is essential for being a successful manager who can grow their team members' careers as well as themselves!

Be encouraging.

Encourage employees to talk about their successes. The best way to do this is by giving them positive feedback. For example, if you notice that an employee has been spending more time on projects than usual, you can encourage them and ask them why they've been putting in so much effort lately. By asking questions like this, you're opening up a dialogue where your employees feel comfortable sharing more about themselves—and trust me: the more you know about your employees' interests and goals outside of work, the better off both of you are!

Be there, fully.

Before you can have a successful one-on-one meeting, you need to be there. You need to be present and fully focused on the person across from you. You can't do this if your phone is out, or if you're thinking about what else needs to be done that day or what other people think of the meeting. Your attention should be on the person in front of you and nothing else.

Sometimes it's helpful to put away all devices while having a 1:1 with someone else—even if it's just for 10 minutes at a time. It helps eliminate distractions and allows both parties' full attention on each other without outside distractions getting in the way.

Listen, truly.

  • Listen to what they are saying.
  • Listen to the tone of their voice.
  • Listen to their body language.
  • Listen to the words they choose and how those words sound when spoken aloud, as well as what isn't said (i.e., "I'd love it if you could tell me about your day." This tells the speaker that we care about them but also leaves room for them to share when/if they're ready).

Understand their needs, genuinely.

When you want to know someone's needs, you need to understand their perspective. When you want to know someone's goals and values, you need to understand what they're trying to accomplish. You should also learn as much about them as possible so that when the time comes for decision making, you'll be able to provide genuine support and have thoughtful conversations with them.

You might think this is obvious advice—you'd be surprised how many people ignore this simple step! If we're honest with ourselves, most of us have been guilty of doing this at some point in our careers: We make assumptions based on our own preferences or experiences rather than taking the time out of our day-to-day lives (or even just one minute) actually listening and learning about who we're working with.

Provide constructive criticism when necessary.

If a meeting goes poorly, or if you need to provide constructive criticism, it's better to do it in private. If your employee is doing something that isn't working for them, it's best to keep that conversation as private as possible so that they're not feeling like their co-workers are judging them too.

In order to make the best of a difficult situation, you should be specific with your criticism; don't just say "this is bad" and leave it at that. Give concrete examples of what needs work and how they can improve on those areas; this makes it easier for them to understand exactly where they went wrong, which will help them fix the issue faster than if you were more vague with your feedback.

Finally, make sure all criticism comes from a supportive place! Be careful not to be condescending or hostile when giving feedback—your employees will feel much more comfortable taking criticism if they know that their boss cares about their well-being enough not only see things get fixed quickly but also wants them happy in general!

1 on 1 meetings can be a positive experience for employees and managers alike when done right

1 on 1 meetings can be a positive experience for employees and managers alike when done right.

The benefits of 1 on 1s:

  • Employees who feel empowered by their manager's trust in them are more likely to be happy at work, which leads to higher productivity and better performance.
  • Managers who give regular feedback are likely to retain their best workers as well as hire the right people in the first place.


1 on 1 meetings are a great way for employees and managers to connect, but only if they’re done right! Hopefully these tips will help you create positive experiences for everyone involved.

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