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You can easily transform pointless one-on-one meetings into POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE sessions that actually grow talent and build your leadership legacy.

In a previous post, I addressed what to talk about in a one-on-one meeting with your direct report.  In this post, I share 5 best practices for making your 1:1s really count.

Holding regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports is certainly a simple idea that sounds good, but so many managers complain that these meetings are unhelpful — or worse, don’t happen at all. Why is having a one-hour meeting once a month so hard?

Here are some ways to get the most out of your 1:1 meetings:

  1. Stick to a schedule.  By making a commitment to a schedule, whether once a week or once a month, both parties will better prepare and take the meeting more seriously.
  1. Work together.Structure your meetings so it’s partly about what you need to discuss, and also about issues your direct report needs to raise. It shouldn’t be just a one-way delegation of tasks. Encourage them to drive the agenda and bring a list of things they’d like to discuss. Good 1:1’s are a conversation, and for that to be successful you need to be open and receptive.
  1. Focus.Giving someone your full, undivided attention is a gift that makes a big impact. The 1:1 meeting is a perfect time to practice being present and free from distraction. It’s not easy, but it is possible with intention. Come to the meeting focused and committed. Don’t schedule back-to-back meetings so you arrive late or have to leave early. Turn off your phone and email, and close your door to limit interruptions. When you’re truly engaging with a direct report, you’re not only showing them respect; you’re also able to really take in what they’re saying and use everyone’s valuable time wisely.
  1. Address accountability.As with any good meeting, it should wrap up with accountabilities and a plan for follow up. Schedule the last few minutes of the meeting for each of you to go through what you’re committing to and when. For best results, this should be followed up with an email from your direct report to you, reviewing what’s supposed to happen. Depending on the project, it also may be useful to set up a milestone to update each other.
  1. Build in some structure.Of course all meetings are different, and you need to find a style that’s comfortable for you. That said, if you can establish some structure and stay consistent with it, you’ll find that the conversations will begin to flow naturally. It’s your job as the manager to honor the time and facilitate the discussion.

Following all of the above recommendations, a good structure for a 45-minute one-on-one meeting is:

  • 15 Minutes: What your direct report needs to raise with you, get approved, etc.
  • 15 Minutes: What you need to address with your direct report, information that needs to be shared, tasks to delegate, what you need to provide feedback on, etc.
  • 10 Minutes: Free time to air any long-term concerns, progress toward career development goals, etc.
  • 5 Minutes: Review accountabilities and make a plan for follow up

These strategies will help you to increase alignment, improve communication, and establish positive relationships using 1:1 meetings.


Every leader hopes to leave a leadership legacy: an enduring and lasting mark on the world.

The way that people think, behave, and approach life as a result of having worked with you is your leadership legacy. It has little to do with your abilities, your performance, your strategic vision, or your political savvy. It has everything to do with who you are, as a person, at work.

I am offering a coaching intensive to provide you with the right tools to build a strong leadership legacy. The toolkit provides strategies that are proven to result in extraordinarily higher engagement and significant performance improvement in organizations, by motivating, developing, and inspiring a future generation of leaders. It focuses on a few simple strategies that can change everything.


positive leadership, leadership development, leadership training

Dr. Stefani Yorges

I am a psychologist and professional leadership coach. I partner with people who want to rise to their full potential so they can have an increasingly greater impact on others.

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