February 1, 2022

Employee Manager One on One Meeting: A Guide

Guidance on how to conduct an effective employee manager one on one meeting, what to discuss and how to plan it.

What is covered: 1. What are One-on-ones? 2. One-on-ones structure 3. One-on-ones plan 4. One-one-ones agenda 5. How to run a one-on-one 6. Questions to ask in a one-on-one 7. Planning for your next meeting

What are Employee Manager One-on-Ones?

one-on-one -what

The employee-manager one-on-one meeting is an important feature in management. This is due to regularly holding meetings facilitating the building of rapport. As well as the ability to build trust between you and your team members.

One-on-one meetings are a forum for communication between supervisor to employee. It also helps employees feel supported at both a professional and personal level. In today’s professional society there has been an organizational shift to ongoing performance management to facilitate the performance review process. This means managers and employees alike need to get better at these meetings.

Unfortunately, very few organizations give guidance on how to conduct (and improve on) these meetings. In this blog, we’re going to offer a guide on how to conduct one on ones from both perspectives. Outlining how to create a plan, possible meeting questions (including open-ended questions) and how to provide constructive feedback. All of which makes you a great manager by leading your team effectively through positive one-on-ones.

👉 Read on for 6 examples of constructive feedback for performance reviews

Employee Manager One on One Meeting structure

one to ones run a metting

Plan for the Employee Manager one on one meeting

one-on-ones - freq

The frequency in which you hold regular one-on-one meetings will vary. This is dependent on the size of the team and organization, how experienced employees are, and where managers sit in the organizational hierarchy.

Nonetheless, it is important to regularly meet through maintaining a schedule of your one-on-ones. However, make sure these are at a manageable time. As to be late - or worse, to cancel without reason - weakens both performance and engagement in the long term. This is where PeopleGoals one-to-one app comes in, with its automations and structured agenda identifying a time that works for both parties has never been easier.

As for the manager, it looks as if you don’t care about the employee’s development or engagement. For the employee, it appears that you are unconcerned about your own personal development and the organization's growth.

As the old adage goes: ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, and this rings true for planning one-on-ones. Devising an agenda prior to the meeting is crucial, particular to ensure all action items are cover sufficiently. In an ideal world, a good manager and their colleagues would collaborate before the meeting, to build a stronger agenda for an employee. However, due to great time constraints and work pressures, this is rarely possible.

Agenda for the Employee Manager one on one meeting

one-on-ones- agenda

A more realistic approach may be to devise a rough agenda prior to the meeting similar to the one below:


  • Talk about what’s going well currently.
  • Acknowledge any changes that the employee has made as a result of previous feedback.
  • Review progress towards each performance goal.
  • Discuss the outcome of any recent training and development activity and ensure it is being put into practice.
  • Discover any issues that the employee is facing.
  • Discuss a rudimentary goal plan for the foreseeable future.
  • Provide advice and/or coaching for any development or performance needs.
  • Discuss organization goals and ensure the employee knows how they are contributing to them.


  • How am I doing?
  • What could I be doing better?
  • Where do I go from here?

The meetings don’t need to be formal nor template-driven. A less structured approach may be to simply ask the employee one or two questions the day before the meeting:

  • What would you like to discuss in our next one-on-one meeting?
  • What are you finding difficult currently? / What challenges are you facing?

How to run the Employee manager one on one meeting

one on one - what to do

Here are 5 topics that should be covered when conducting a one-on-one meeting with employees or with your manager.

  • Check-In
  • Brief review
  • Updates on objectives, discuss challenges, set consequences
  • Build a relationship
  • Look to the future
  • Employee Manager One on One Meeting

Gauge the atmosphere. How are you both feeling?

This shouldn’t constitute a large portion of the meeting. However, it is useful for getting the manager and employee on the same page. It even may aid the employee’s development of self-awareness skills.

Questions to ask in the Employee manager one on one meeting

one-on-ones - basic qs

Possible questions that the manager could use in this section of the meeting are:

  • What sort of progress have you made on the next steps we discussed last time?
  • What have you done exceptionally well since our last meeting?
  • What would you have done differently?

In this section, managers should update the employee on any new projects or company goals that impact the employee’s work. One key driver behind employee engagement is bridging the gap between work and company goals, this is a perfect opportunity.

In terms of individual goals, managers should talk to employees about the progress and challenges that the employee may be facing. Managers here may be able to offer advice or alternatively direct employees to training or coaching in a given area.

Managers should also set out clear expectations and deadlines. Managers may wish to conclude this section by creating clear action timelines, allowing employees to work alongside them.

  • What do you think has gone well? What do you think you could have done better?
  • What would you like to do, that I haven't been able to?
  • How might I make this project more challenging or interesting for you?
  • What ideas can you bring in from past successes?
  • What additional resources from me would be helpful for you as you solve this problem?

The one-on-one meeting is an opportunity to engage employees and develop a positive working environment. Managers and employees can discuss performance in the context of company culture. Performance isn’t solely driven by numbers, but also by employee engagement and development. Managers should ask how employees view their role within the company:

  • Imagine it’s two years from now, and things have gone well: What has been your role in that? What does your role look like?
  • If we could improve in any way as an organization, how would we do it?

One of the most important parts of a one on one meeting with employees is to recognize achievements and contributions. Recognition has multiple benefits. It can boost employee motivation, lighten a difficult performance contribution and it's beneficial at an organizational level. Gallup found that 28% of the most memorable recognition comes from an employee’s manager.

Planning for the next one Employee manager one on one meeting

one to one - final

Managers should provide coaching notes for employees to refer to when they face similar challenges in the future. Managers may also wish to take personal notes so that they can analyze the path of employee development. Before concluding the meeting, both parties should review any items that may carry over to the next meeting. These include employee goals, challenges, deadlines, and key tactics for achievement.

Finally, make sure to follow up as one-on-ones only work when they are held regularly and consistently.

  • What actions will you take before our next 1-1 to make progress on X?
  • What development areas do you want to work on in the coming weeks?
  • What additional resources can I provide for you between now and the next time we meet?


One-on-ones are imperative to an organization's growth. The perfect one-on-one with employees is relaxed but allows both parties to extract valuable information. By the end of the one-on-one meetings manager and employees should both be able to answer three basic questions: Employee Manager One on One Meeting questions

How am I doing? What could I be doing better? Where do I go from here? The most important aspect of a one on one meeting with employees is consistency. Even if there are no specific issues, it is important to keep the meeting so that both parties can be heard.

👉 Read our how-to guide to write and effective employee development plan

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