A guide for employees to evaluate their one on one meeting with their manager. Tips best practices and ideas on when to speak up.

Manager One on One Meeting : The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A guide for employees to evaluate their one on one meeting with their manager. Tips, best practices and ideas on when to speak up.

A lot of employees are afraid of having a one on one (1 on 1s) meeting with their manager, and instead try to avoide them.So do not worry if you feel that way. Yet, that is the wrong way to think about 1 on 1s.

Done right one one one meeting, can set you apart from the rest of the team and can give you greater visibility on your manager's view about the performance. You can walk away from your one on one meeting with with supervisor with ideas on how to complete your goals and key information on how to get promoted. Obviously there is another side to one on one meetings as they can go terribly wrong. That is the case primarily when managers don't dedicate any time to their employees resulting in showing up in the meeting not prepared. That is a common reason why employees try to avoid the meeting.

How to call out a bad 1 on 1 meeting with your manager?

You can easily tell when the meeting with your supervisor is going bad, here are the most common indicators:

  • They show up late and primarily talk about things you are doing wrong, without backing them up with examples.
  • Your goals for the next 3, 6 and 12 months are not part of the conversation.
  • There is no mention of career progression and how you are benchmarking alongside your peers.
  • The focus is on small things rather than the bigger picture, for example easy tasks versus your key objectives.
  • The meeting is unstructured and there is not set agenda. It is the responsibility of the employee to set the agenda so the blame is on both sides
  • Meeting ends with no action to be taken ahead of the next meeting.

How a good 1 on 1 meeting looks like?

It is not hard for a 1on1 meeting to be great, but it requires effort from both sides. The observations below indicate what a good 1 on 1 should look like:

  • Your manager is engaged and has prepared for the meeting. For example she read your latest goal updates.
  • There is a 1 on 1 meeting agenda in place that covers goals, feedback, wellbeing and career progression.
  • The 1 on 1 agenda is followed and actions are established for each agenda item.
  • The anager provides constructive feedback backed with examples that can help you develop.
  • The supervisoris open to feedback and keen to understand where she can improve.
  • Meeting ends with clear actions for both the employee and manager that should be completed ahead of the next one one meeting.

What an 'ugly' 1 on 1 meeting looks like?

We have covered the good and bad 1on1s but there is another outcome that needs to be considered concrening 1 on 1s, the 'ugly':

  • The meeting keeps being rescheduled or the duration is reduced.
  • The meeting gets derailed and you start talking about ongoing work issues, irrelevant to your goals.
  • The manager is taking calls and reading emails during the meeting.
  • The meeting ends prematurely.
  • The manager asks to make the 1on1s less frequent.

If your meeting lands on this category you have to escalate the problems to your supervisor or your manager's manager right away.

Joseph Garvey

Joseph Garvey

Marketing Analyst

5 minute readPublished on July 29, 2019