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How to Make Your One-on-Ones with Employees More Productive

1:1 meetings are typically quick and casual check-ins, but they can be so much more!

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If your team is following industry best practices, they're investing up to 1.5 hours per person each week into 1:1s. Is it worth the time? Yes. Absolutely.

But taking the time and making good use of the time are not the same thing. Let's talk about how to make the most of your time, from prep to post!

Employees of managers who don’t have 1:1 meetings are 4x as likely to be disengaged.
Harvard Business Review

How to Prepare for a 1:1


People are often looking for others to prescribe them a frequency schedule for their meetings, but the truth is, every team will be different. That being said, it’s usually recommended to hold 1:1s with all your direct reports biweekly, if not more often! The frequency of 1:1 meetings typically depends on the employee’s knowledge level, skills, and overall wellbeing.


In terms of how long a 1:1 should last, it’s usually considered good practice to set aside 30 minutes to an hour. It’s a common misconception that 1:1s should be short, 10-15 minute check-ins - effective 1 on 1s tend to last longer in order to give employees the space to bring up big problems that they’d like to tackle with their manager.


To prepare for a 1:1, there are a few things a manager should consider. First, the manager should consider the purpose and expectations for the meeting. By the end of the meeting, what is your desired outcome?

You should then consider what topics you want to cover. What needs discussing? Is this 1:! More focused on feedback, or goal setting? Come up with a list of topics or questions that you want to go over, and consider creating a document with a template that follows the structure you design here (fun fact: CodeGem does this for you!).

Finally, consider what you can add to your meeting to make it more productive. For example, CodeGem allows you to add specific analytics to a 1:1, so you can discuss things like the employee’s cycle time and wellbeing with ease.

How to Run a 1:1

Kicking-Off Your 1:1

Following your meeting agenda or template, begin the conversation. It’s usually a good idea to start the conversation off lightly. Ask some ice breaker questions and get to know how the employee is doing on a more informal level.

The Conversation

Use your list of topics and follow your template/agenda to make sure you stick to the right conversation points. The manager should be sure to drive the conversations, ask questions, and give feedback. Here are some examples of suitable topics to discuss at this point in a 1:1 meeting:

  1. Reflective questions: What are you proud of? What do you enjoy about your work? What can you do better?
  2. Goal-setting questions: Are your goals on track? Are there any new goals we should set?
  3. Team questions: Are you happy with your team’s level of collaboration? Are you facing any interpersonal issues?
  4. Management questions: What do you like about the way you’re being managed? How can I improve & support you better?

Wrapping up

Always end the meeting practically by creating actions items for any next steps and improvements. Don’t forget to revise any goals that were set and reflect on feedback. Take notes throughout the meeting to refer back to after the meeting is over and follow up as needed.Finally, don’t forget that practice makes perfect! It takes time to get the hang of 1:1s, but hopefully, these tips help you run better meetings.If you’re looking for additional 1:1 support, you can learn more about CodeGem’s 1:1 feature here! We’d love to chat more about how we can support you.

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