8 Highly Effective Tips to Make the Most of Your One-on-One Meetings


At Interstates, we believe in the value of building meaningful relationships. Engaging in regular one-on-one meetings with our employees is an integral to building a strong foundation in those relationships. Not only do these meetings build rapport, but they help direct reports develop and grow. These meetings also provide time to think about how you can best work with others.

How do you make the most of your one-on-one meetings? Below you will find 8 tips that can help make your meetings more productive and valuable for both you and your employees.

1. Schedule a Regular, Recurring Time for Meetings

A regular meeting schedule lets the employee know they are valued. It provides them with a designated time to discuss important topics and discuss new ideas. This designated time also means you and your direct report will be less likely to repeatedly interrupt each other’s work time. Try not to make a habit of skipping or cancelling at the last minute as this can send a negative message to your employee.

2. Prepare, But Remain Flexible

Setting an agenda for your meeting allows both you and your direct report to be prepared. Determine a system that works best for both of you. You may want to collaborate on the agenda, have a rotating topic agenda, or a standing agenda. Avoid a system or schedule that is overly rigid.  Flexibility in the agenda gives you the freedom to adjust in the event you want to discuss unexpected topics. Click here to view a sample meeting agenda. At Interstates, we utilize Microsoft OneNote which allows our leaders to collaborate with their direct reports from anywhere. Each person who has access to the shared OneNote can easily add, edit, or remove topics in real-time.

3. Always Be Present

Make an effort to eliminate any distractions during meetings, so you are fully present. Consider turning off your email and cell phone so you don’t inadvertently respond to a ding or a buzz. Being attentive sends the message that this meeting is important.

4. Start With a Win

If you have something pertinent, start the meeting off with a positive word of encouragement for the employee.  Acknowledge the work they’ve done on a project or an individual accomplishment. Sharing a win or celebration is a great way to recognize your employee’s contribution to the team.

5. Discuss Current Work and Recap the Past Week

You will want to allow time to review current projects, what is planned for this week, as well as any concerns or challenges you see in the future. This could even include work you anticipate in the next 4-8 months. You may also want to allow time to review the previous week. Take time to do a quick recap and discuss any lessons learned or things you may have done differently. I also encourage you to work positive feedback and constructive criticism into your agenda. At Interstates, we refer to this as “plus and delta” feedback. The ability to give and receive both types of feedback is a key part of our company culture.

6. Practice Active Listening

As a leader, it’s important to practice active listening and avoid dominating the meeting. Instead, strive for a balance of asking questions and participating as an active listener. You may be surprised how much you learn from and about your direct reports when you listen well.

7. Create Opportunity

Utilize this time to delve into your employee’s development, goals, and plans for the future. This may not be crucial at every meeting, but it is important to discuss on occasion. Doing so ensures you understand what drives and motivates your employee, as well as the type of work they find most fulfilling.

8. Show Appreciation and Gratitude

As you wrap up, try to always close the meeting on a positive note. Thank your employee for their continued hard work and impact they make in the organization.  Tell them you appreciate and value what they do. Gratitude is important and incredibly powerful.

These tips can help you make the most of your one-on-one meetings. If you and your employee are intentional about your regular meetings, you will strengthen your relationship, contribute to the success of your department, and be better equipped to create opportunity for your employees.

How are you making the most of your one-on-one meetings? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Keep leading the Interstates way.

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This blog post was written by Doug Post.