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Get more from your 1:1’s

Do you come away from 1:1's feeling a sense of accomplishment, optimism and like it was time well spent? Or do you emerge with a nagging sense of disappointment, frustrated that you failed to make the most of the meet-up?


The chances are you’ve probably experienced both.

1:1’s can be really powerful tools, they can strengthen relationships, develop trust and improve performance.

But only if you’re doing them right. Meandering general catchups that lack focus, that slip from diaries, that become more of a chore than a galvanising tool, are really a waste of everyone’s valuable time.

Goals, goals, goals

This really is the key to getting the most from your 1:1’s. If you make sure they centre around setting and reviewing goals, your sessions will have a natural focus on results and performance.

So how can we make sure our 1:1’s are goal driven? In The New One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson have some great advice on goal-setting and goal-getting:

  • Plan the goals together and describe them briefly and clearly — show people what good performance looks like.
  • Have people write out each of their goals, with due dates, on a single page.
  • Ask them to review their most important goals each day, which takes only a few minutes to do.
  • Encourage people to take a minute to look at what they’re doing and see if their behaviour matches their goals.
  • If it doesn’t, encourage them to re-think what they’re doing so they can realise their goals sooner.


As a leader your main role in a 1:1 is to listen. Not to pause and wait for them to finish before imparting your wisdom, but to actively listen, digest, and when appropriate guide. Let your team steer the conversation, coach them through their challenges and encourage them to reach their own conclusions.

Mix it up

Going into the same boardroom – in person or online – for every meeting, every 1:1, every staff lunch, can get dull and uninspiring. Think about mixing it up every now and again, go for a walk, grab a coffee, if the sun’s out make the most of it and have your catchup outside.

Make the time count

There are so many benefits to 1:1’s, but it’s your place as a leader to make sure they are time well spent. That they centre around actionable and achievable goals, that they are something to look forward to rather than dread, and regret.

How are you using 1:1’s to be more than a calendar blocker? What are some ways you’ve learned to make them a truly useful part of your week?