Best Boss Secret Sauce: The One-on-One


Want to connect and begin to partner with your employees? One-on-ones are a forum for this to happen!

It is amazing to me how many managers do not have regularly scheduled one-on-ones with their employees or treat one-on-ones as a time to do all the talking and directing. As a coach, when my clients implement well-conducted one-on-ones, they always provide a dramatic improvement in performance and attitude. One-on-ones can bring employees and managers closer together if done appropriately. Managers truly understand employees’ development levels and are able to match the appropriate leadership styles. Also, managers learn their employees’ natural strengthens and what motivates them. The discussions become richer, lead to early problem-solving, and build trust.

A one-on-one is a short meeting between the manager and employee to stay in touch with the employee’s performance and development. It provides a structure for opening up the lines of communication. The manager and employee discuss work tasks and share personal information that leads to a deeper learning about each other.

The one-on-one is usually for 30 minutes occurring every other week. One great aspect of the one-on-one is the employee sets and leads the agenda. The employee walks into a one-on-one knowing he/she has the manager’s undivided attention to share progress on tasks and to ask questions. The manager’s role is to listen, answer questions, and provide additional information the employee needs to accomplish tasks. The one-on-one is employee driven, not manager driven!

When I was a manager, one-on-ones allowed me to build trusting relationships with each of my direct reports. I knew their strengths and desires, which allowed me to assign projects based on this knowledge. There were times that a one-on-one lasted 15 minutes or 60 minutes. Sometimes conversations were non-work related and just allowed for re-connecting. Once we went through the employee’s agenda, I would ask permission to speak about a few additional items. Employee’s agenda was always first!

So, if you are not having regularly scheduled one-on-ones, what are you losing?


4 thoughts on “Best Boss Secret Sauce: The One-on-One

  1. That connection is so key to what we do as leaders. I’ve been in both situations, where I had it and didn’t. I think when we don’t connect with those who work with us, they do not stay as engaged. When employees become disengaged, that’s never a good thing, for them or for us. This is a timely post. Thanks for providing it today!

  2. GREAT POST! Terry, it is SO IMPORTANT for both sides of the relationship for the focus to be on the agenda of the direct report. The boss can “boss” any time, the one on one must be sacred. So glad you wrote about this important topic.

  3. 1-on-1 Meetings™ are the centerpiece of my 1-on-1 Management® approach to leadership and people development – so I couldn’t agree more!! What I hear from most managers is they don’t have time for one-on-one’s with employees…perhaps priorities need to change…??

    Excellent post, right on target.

  4. Pingback: » Are you doing One on One’s with your team?

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