How to Have Effective 1-on-1s

In my opinion, the key to a good 1-on-1 meeting is understanding that the meeting is for the individual rather than the manager.

This post is geared torwards the individual, who should be empowered to take ownership of 1-on-1 time, virtually or in person.

This is the meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email and other less personal and intimate mechanisms.

The Start, Stop, Continue technique

A great way to focus on an agenda, retrospectively is to have a consistent approach, a framework for summarizing your thoughts and feelings.

StartWhat should we start doing?
New ideas that have come up but haven't been considered yet.
StopWhat should we stop doing?
Things that are not having the desired outcome for you.
ContinueWhat should we continue doing?
Things that are working for you and want to keep.

3 Self-Metrics to Discuss

  • Engagement: Are you engaged in contributing to the team's objectives as well as your own self-growth objectives?

  • Performance: What is the result of your contributions. Reference your performance rubric (ideally you have one) for a way to calibrate against your responsibilities.

  • Alignment: Are we aligned on all objectives and outcomes?

Other Topics You Could Discuss

  • If you are unsure or don't fully understand what you've been asked to work on, this is the time to voice that uncertainty. If you don't know, ask!

  • Provide a brief on the status of your current work.

  • Talk about a blend of short-term/tactical and long-term/strategic topics.

  • Ask for guidance, advice, or coaching on how to handle a hard problem/challenge.

  • Do you need help from your manager in escalating an issue or to unblock something?

  • Discuss any vacation or extended time off you may need to take that the team needs to plan around.