Avoid These Mistakes During One-on-One Meetings

Regardless what you think about staff meetings, having regularly scheduled focused one-on-one sessions between managers and direct reports are important to keeping employees motivated, engaged and up-to-date.  Unfortunately,  meetings are often held with no direction, unclear expectations and minimal planning, which can lead to wasted time and effort.   We have provided some tips below to transform those unproductive conversations into meetings that matter and make a positive difference.

Establish Structure

Your position of authority requires listening to gather information. Plan for success by:

  • Setting the expectation for mutual dialogue.
  • Requesting staff to offer input for the meeting agenda.
  • Establishing parameters for follow-up.

Employees experiencing work challenges often have legitimate concerns that warrant further inquiry. You can gather valuable information by guiding a dialogue during which you gain useful information.

  • Use brevity to express your concerns. Be descriptive, using benchmarks to back your observations.
  • Invite the employee with whom you are meeting to respond to your statements.
  • Make reflective comments or expand inquiry by asking questions related to the employee’s remarks.


Set ground rules for discussing interpersonal or personnel performance concerns during your one-on-one meetings. These and other small meetings can devolve into gossip or complaint sessions without some established guidelines.

  • Frame these to align with your organization’s philosophy of mutual respect.
  • Describe the potential organizational concerns associated with this behavior.
  • Provide guidance for how employees with workplace issues are to communicate those to you.


Convey the value and importance of supervisory meetings by:

  • Assuring they are timely.
  • Allowing sufficient lead time for scheduling.
  • Establishing the time frame and content of the meeting.
  • Being prepared with fair, objective feedback to share.
  • Assuring that the meeting takes place as scheduled for the designated time.
  • Providing opportunity for follow up.

Meetings Overview

One-on-one meetings can be the opportunity to keep employees engaged and invested in the growth of your company.  Maximize your impact by not minimizing these conversations. Commit to making these internal conversations a priority.


“Designing a meeting is like designing a relationship.”

                                                                        John Nawn, Meeting Designer

For more management tips, check out Good Managers Act Like This, Do you?