Leadership // Featured

Attention All Leaders: How Effective Are Your One-on-Ones?

Have you ever complained about your 1:1 meetings? The amount of times we've all heard negative feedback about 1:1 meetings with managers & direct reports is staggering, frustrating and disappointing.

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You may be finding this because you're spending too much time on managing vs. leading. Nonetheless, here are tips & guardrails every manager & direct report can implement to significantly improve your 1:1's. 


1. Schedule & Commit

  • Schedule Recurring/Repeat Meetings - Take out the sporadic & impromptu nature of your 1:1's. Live & die by your calendar? Book it. 

    • Google:

    • Outlook:

  • Reschedule, Don't Cancel - How you spend your time is a reflection of your priorities. Cancel = not important. Reschedule = important, not urgent. Set the right precedence.

  • If Necessary, Change the Frequency/Length - No need to have long or unnecessary 1:1's for the sake it. Respect each other's time.

2. Prepare

Direct Reports: 1:1's are predominantly your time. Help your manager help you.

  • Know Your Business, Bring Your Metrics - Agree with your manager on key focus metrics. Bring your metric performance to every 1:1. Show your manager you know your business inside & out.
  • Bring Your Successes - Don't gloat, but manager's cannot see every positive thing you're doing. Keep them informed on wins, big & small.
  • Surface Your Challenges, Bring Examples & Potential Solutions! Great managers help remove barriers to success. Tell your manager about your challenges in a thoughtful way. This template may help:

Managers: This is predominantly your direct reports' time. Manage it accordingly.

  • Less > More: Bring 1-2 agenda items or topics maximum per 60 min.
  • Prepare to Partner: Your team has challenges to address. Mentally prepare to partner & remove barriers to success.
  • Be Present: Focus. Remove email, phone, and other distractions. 

3. Balance: Results vs. Coaching vs. Career/Development

Managers: 1:1's exclusively about results every week are not helpful. They are demotivating & uninspiring for your team. Motivate & inspire your direct reports by striking an effective balance between results, coaching, and development. Example: Schedule 3 Different 1:1 Types: B-Plan, Coaching, Career/Development

4. Follow-through

Direct Reports/Managers:

  • Do What You Say You're Going to Do. Simple concept, yet 1:1's can become lip service many times. Follow-through on all action items and appropriately keep each other informed on progress. For example, if you say you're going to help them with coaching, but you don't have enough time - help them find an executive coach.
  • Give Positive Feedback. Give your manager positive feedback about teammates & internal partners. This feedback pays huge dividends for individual careers, helps your manager keep a pulse on the team, and shows your character when no one else can hear you give the compliment. 

*This post was originally published on Linkedin.

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Brandon Naber

Brandon Naber

On a lifelong mission to break down the boundaries of growth potential for hard-working, ambitious people & organisations around the world. An experienced consultant with experience working within 5 of the fastest growing businesses of all time - LinkedIn, Dropbox, Twitter, SurveyMonkey & CEB - as well as many ambitious startups.