The Easy to Follow One on One Meeting Checklist

How to start a 1-on-1 meeting? Start of a one-on-one meeting asking some simple icebreaking questions to get the employee talking about themselves and where they are in their life. Discussing a little bit of personal matters may get them to feel less tense since it will take some pressure.

Most managers fail to realize the importance of having regular one-on-one meeting with their employees. Every employee deserves the opportunity to have a meaningful, productive, and helpful one-on-one meeting with their manager. One-on-ones are essential for your employees’ growth and development as well as for your company’s success. It also allows a manager to know what help the employee needs or what is holding them back from progressing. There are many other benefits to having these meetings more frequently, so make sure you schedule them into your calendar as a recurring event.

What is a 1-on-1 Meeting?

A One-on-One meeting is a periodical meeting between a manager and employee. The primary purpose of this meeting is for the manager to understand how the employee feels about their work, personal performance, career development, ambitions, and goals and find a way to support them.

The meeting allows the manager to learn and identify where the employee needs help. It also maintains a constructive relationship with the employee, keeping performance in line with team and company goals.

So, are you preparing for a one-on-one meeting? Here is an easy to follow  checklist to help make it a successful one-on-one meeting:

1. Check the Calendars Before Scheduling a Meeting

Check both calendars, your own and your employee’s calendars, and ensure both of you are available to schedule a one-on-one meeting.

Everyone’s availability must match up. More importantly, ensure that there is a mutually available time for both of you to avoid conflicting schedules.

Check first with your employee if they have any questions or concerns about the meeting before scheduling. The employee should feel comfortable and well informed about the upcoming meeting.

2. Have a One on One Meeting Agenda

First, you need a clear agenda with goals and outcomes in mind before the start of your one-on-one meetings.

Remember to share it with your employee as soon as possible so they prepare their thoughts and questions for the meeting. Try to stick to the meeting agenda, but be flexible if needed.

Read also: 14 Key Areas of Improvement for Managers

3. Have a List of Topics

List all the things you want to discuss in the meeting. One on One meeting topics depends on your previous and current situations.

However, there are some topics that you should never go without discussing when meeting with your employee like, career development, team dynamics, and workplace culture issues, and performance feedback.

4. Prepare your Questions

The best questions are those that you prepare in advance. This is especially true when it comes to one-on-one meetings.

The goal of these meetings should be to identify and address issues as they arise, not only for the benefit of your employee, you, and the company.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the meeting objectives. You should also know which issues need addressing to ensure no surprises come up when asking questions.

5. Consider How to Start

Consider how you will start your meeting. Will you start with a question, a summary of what is to discuss, or an introduction? Avoid jumping in with a litany of statements without setting a conducive environment for having a constructive meeting.

The most critical part of a one-on-one meeting is the beginning. The atmosphere must be comfortable and put everyone at ease.

So, you might want to pose a question, give them some background information. Whichever way you choose to start should be engaging, so that your employee is not left wondering or feeling tense.

6. Ask Icebreaking Questions

At the start of a one-on-one, ask some simple icebreaking questions to get your employee talking (examples of good openers are “What did I miss in last week’?” or asking about their work on current projects).

Ask how they feel since you last spoke before diving into any business topics that need discussion. Keep things lighthearted by joking around every now again. It will create a sense of connection with your employee.

7. Use Open-ended Questions

Conduct the meeting positively by asking open-ended questions, like “What is your current level of satisfaction with the work you are doing?” or “What have been some challenges that stop you from meeting expectations at this company?”.

This will lead to an open and constructive dialogue that moves beyond just “giving yes or no” answers. Avoid using closed-end question or statements that may be incorrect like, “You’re not happy here” or anything that is blaming.

The open-ended questions will allow your employee time to think about their answer before responding. That will be more productive for both of you because it allows a conversation, not an interrogation.

Read more: How Do You Set Your Expectations for a Team

8. Share Your Own Story

Be vulnerable in sharing your thoughts and feelings about work or life. For example, you can share personal stories about your professional life as a way to establish common ground with your employee.

It will help your employee feel like they know you better as a person, which will make it easier for them to trust you.

9. Stick to Relevant Topics

Avoid discussing topics that are unrelated to the meeting. If an employee brings up something unrelated and unproductive-use your judgment whether allow it or not, but that may depend on what stage of the meeting you are at.

Keep the conversation moving and focused on one topic at a time because if you allow it to deviate from what is important, your employee may forget why this even matters which can be very frustrating and waste of valuable time.

10. Take Notes During the Meeting

Take notes so you can follow up with any action items after the meeting is over. The notes must be clear and detailed enough so that you will remember what everything your employee said.

Take quality notes that are more than a meeting summary. Review your notes before the next meeting to refresh your memory and prepare yourself for the future conversation.

11. Listen Attentively

Listen attentively without interrupting or dismissing anything your employee says during the meeting. If you want to respond to something, wait for them to finish before speaking if possible.

You can always repeat back what your employee is saying to confirm understanding and summarizing their thoughts in your own words, but wait for an appropriate pause in their conversation and then speak.

Read: How to Facilitate a Video Conference Call Meeting

12. Give Feedback Focusing on the Future

Discuss future projects with your employees. Give feedback that focuses on the future, not the past. Instead of discussing already failed projects, discuss future projects that you want them to accomplish.

When giving feedback, be specific about what they should do better next time and how it will make a positive difference in the project (if applicable).

13. Close the Meeting Positively

Close the meeting in a way that leaves your employee feeling like they accomplished something tangible. You can do that by providing an actionable next step for the employee to work on.

This is where you have a chance not only to show your employee that they are doing well. But also, to impress them with how much support and attention they can receive from you.

The goal is for your employee to come away feeling like you were sincere, supportive, and most importantly, that their feedback mattered in some way.

Never close a one-on-one meeting using statements like “You have to do better.” Instead, say something positive and constructive that will leave your employees feeling more confident in their abilities and excited for the future.


One-on one meeting are essential for employee growth, development and for the company success.  They provide a manager with opportunities to find out what is holding your employees  back from progressing or improving in the workplace which leads to a better understanding.

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