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Tips for Structuring Meaningful One to One Conversations

23 February 2017
BLOG one to one

We’ve had several requests for coaching conversations recently which have focused on how to approach and structure one to one reviews or catch ups. How do we ensure they are useful, timely and not just a tick box exercise?

So, we’ve come up with a few pointers that we find useful to consider when preparing for a one to one.

Outcomes – Firstly, is the conversation necessary and if so, what do you want to get out of the meeting?  This is a good way of ensuring your one to ones are always focused and productive, and by ‘you’ we mean both participants.

Who leads the meeting? – In short, it’s their meeting not yours so the ownership should be very much on the side of the report - we recommend a speaking ratio on average of 70% direct report vs 30% the manager. 

Frequency – Consider tailoring this to the individual concerned.  Your new starter may require a short daily one to one, while your established employee may only require a monthly one to one.

Schedule in advance – Make sure it’s in the diary, then you both get into the routine and have a ‘plan’.  This helps everyone prepare and there are no sudden surprises or reasons to duck out on either side. 

Don’t cancel – We all know that things come up BUT do your utmost not to cancel.  Putting it off undermines the importance and value you attribute to the one to one, and potentially to your employee as well! 

Turn the phone off – There is nothing worse than playing second fiddle to someone else’s smart phone.  You have set aside the time, so put the phone down, and focus on the task at hand completely.  You will be get a lot more from a short, focused session than a protracted, interrupted one.

Consider your communication style – While some people like a personal approach and will appreciate a ‘How’s the family?’ conversation, others would much rather get down to business and leave the personal life chat completely.

And finally… Always end with a plan and some actions to put in place.  The accountability should lie with your report so we recommend that they drop you an email with some notes on what they are going to do following the meeting, when they will do it and all importantly, how they will do it.  When you receive the email and the content within it will give you a big clue as to how motivated and clued up they are to progress.

Good luck with the next one to one conversation and let us know if you have any other top tips for successful one to one conversations.  

If you are interested in finding out more about our coaching and training services, please call us on 01295 675506 for a friendly no obligation chat.

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