How to Run One on One Meetings for Improved Performance

Published On: May 9, 20235.7 min read

One on one meetings between team leads and their direct reports have become a popular way for teams to stay connected, get feedback, and hold themselves accountable. 

A one on one meeting is a regular check-in designed to prompt productive conversations with employees about goals, objectives, challenges they’re facing, successes they’ve achieved—and everything in between. They can also be used as a tool to help improve communication within the team and create a more collaborative environment.

When structured well and held on a regular cadence, 1 on 1s can assist with implementing a process for continuous performance reviews that will ultimately drive improvement.

One on One Meetings Drive Long-Term Success

Some companies don’t practice 1:1s frequently enough, and some don’t do them at all. The main reason is not because they don’t believe they’re important. It’s because they see these meetings as an extra slot on the calendar taking up time that could be better spent elsewhere. And let’s face it, we have enough meetings throughout the day that seem to be better at wasting time than leveraging it.

What several business leaders fail to realize is that by implementing regular 1:1s on a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly cadence, they can actually save time by cutting back on the number of check-ins that team leads have with their direct reports throughout the day. Having a dedicated time to meet up helps eliminate the need for more frequent back-and-forth communications.

Performance-driving benefits of One on One Meetings

1 on 1s are a small part of your meeting workflow that can have a large impact on nearly every aspect of your business – from team performance to improved culture. These meetings are more personal than your all-hands stand-ups, and are designed to benefit both parties in addition to the business as a whole. 

1 on 1s help shape progress and development, establishing your business as one that upholds good relationships between managers and employees and fosters a culture of accountability and collaboration.

Below are three areas within a business that will drastically improve by implementing effective 1:1 meetings.

Goal Setting and Tracking

Goal setting is an important step in developing a business plan, but it doesn’t stop there. You should consistently be setting new goals for your business based on several factors, from your company vision to your available resources.

We recommend setting a handful of short-term goals at the beginning of each quarter that help move the needle toward achieving your overarching longer-term goals. This will help break down your biggest business objectives into manageable tasks and actions. 

1 on 1 meetings provide an opportunity to set and discuss individual goals for each team member, and help identify how each person plays a role in getting closer to the long-term business goals. With 1:1s, team leads can regularly check in on their direct reports’ OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), discuss any lagging targets, and allow for readjustment as needed. Then team leads can better identify their team members’ individual strengths and weaknesses to develop a realistic set of expectations specific to each team member.

This insight will also help team leads understand how they can best help each employee to ensure everyone stays on track and hits their goals.

Better Communication 

Not only do 1:1s provide a recurring opportunity for checking progress, they also help implement better communication habits among a team.

86% of employees cite ineffective collaboration and communication as the main reason for business failures. Especially now with so many companies using remote and hybrid work models, maintaining effective communication is more important (and more challenging) than ever.

1:1s provide a setting where team leads and their direct reports can have an open dialogue. Both parties can give and receive feedback, ask questions for clarity, and practice active listening.

This communication loop is a way to combat common challenges that may arise with any meetings. Urging team members to provide feedback will help keep them engaged and present, and can help eliminate misunderstandings.

In addition to promoting effective communication habits, 1:1s foster an environment where employees feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. The dialogue will allow for honest conversations about individual roles and responsibilities, as well as better understanding of how each team member is contributing to the larger mission.

Growth and Development Opportunities

One of the more personal benefits, 1:1s open the door for team leads to discuss career growth and development opportunities with team members. As a team lead, you should encourage your team members to think about their long-term career goals and discuss how you can help them achieve these objectives. Identify potential training opportunities, projects, or job rotations that can help them develop new skills and advance their careers. The importance of these conversations is often overlooked by team leads, so it’s helpful to have a section for it in your 1 on 1 agenda.

Team leads should begin the conversation surrounding growth by asking open-ended questions that encourage discussion, such as “What are your long-term career goals?” or “What skills or experiences would you like to develop in the next year?” Listen carefully to their responses, and ask follow-up questions to clarify and expand on their ideas.

Once you’ve identified potential growth and development opportunities, work with your team members to create a plan for achieving their goals, and review progress in your 1:1s. Celebrate their successes and offer constructive feedback when necessary.

Conducting an Effective One on One Meeting

Like all meetings, 1:1s can only be successful if they are structured well. Whether you are a team lead or team member, you can follow these tips to help make your 1:1s more productive.

  • Set a recurring cadence and stick with it – You may choose to have your 1 on 1 daily, weekly, or bi-weekly.
  • Limit the length of the meeting – The length of each meeting depends on the cadence. If you meet every day, you likely will not need longer than 8-10 minutes per meeting. Start and end on time, every time.
  • Follow a clear agenda.
  • Prepare updates for KPIs and other progress points ahead of time.
  • Ask for clarity and feedback.
  • Assign action items, even if they are small.
  • Follow up – Take notes and share them with the other party.


Ultimately, one on one meetings1:1s can be an effective way to keep up with good habits and streamline business performance for growing companies.

They are an essential part of continuous performance review and improvement. Holding these meetings regularly will strengthen every aspect of your company, facilitating communication, strategic thinking, team building, and dynamic execution. 

The Align software comes with built-in templates for different types of meetings, including one on ones, to help ensure your meetings are productive and lead to increased performance. Want to check it out?

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