To Get the Most Out of Your 1:1s, Follow This Template

When it comes to one-on-ones, we know several things: They’re very important for your team’s engagement and success, yet they often get rescheduled or deprioritized. They can be dreadful if you’re not prepared, but when you are prepared, they have an outsized opportunity to impact success—and the same goes for your reports. And finally, when they’re unstructured, they can feel like a waste of time.

Last updated on: 
August 10, 2023
The Pathlight Team
The Pathlight Team
July 28, 2022
5 min read

That’s why finding a consistent approach to running your 1:1s is critical, but adding the creation of a 1:1 agenda to your workload can feel like a drag. After all, it’s a lot to juggle managing your team with your other responsibilities. To add to the challenge, the new world of remote and hybrid work has made 1:1s harder to nail down every time. That’s why templatizing your 1:1s is so critical; doing so can help you manage your responsibilities, help your reports manage theirs, and help you deliver the most value to your reports.

Although no two 1:1s will ever be the same, here’s a guide to how to templatize your 1:1 agenda, so you’re setting yourself—and your reports—up for success every time. 

Things to keep in mind

Going into your weekly 1:1s, there are several things to remember. First and foremost, this time is for your report. Their time with you is to focus on their goals, accomplishments, challenges, and feedback—so keep it centered around them. Going into your 1:1s, preparation is key—on both sides of the meeting. Sharing relevant information about performance ahead of time (or in real-time if possible) encourages transparency around performance so neither you nor your reports ever feel blindsided by feedback or news shared during a 1:1. To that end, data and performance intelligence can play a huge role in helping you run better 1:1s. Your reports will feel more empowered and informed both during your 1:1s and in between them.

Sticking to a templatized agenda will keep your meetings predictable and make preparing much simpler for both you and your reports. Templates can also make sure that you’re carving out time to look at the 30,000 foot view of their role and career as well as the ground-level view of their day-to-day—something that’s very important to today’s workforce. Lastly, do your best not to cancel these meetings—they’re critical to engagement and achieving performance goals for your reports, your team, and your organization. 

The perfect 1:1: A template

Document everything

Use a template or shared workspace to document your 1:1s, which doubles as a great place to add topics throughout the week that might come up. Documenting your meetings will help drive accountability, transparency, and preparedness.

Tip: Link your template to the calendar invite, or use a system like Pathlight 1-on-1s that automatically syncs to your calendar. 

Check in: How are you doing?

First, take time to connect personally with your report. According to a recent Gallup poll, Gen Z and millennials want an employer who cares about their wellbeing. And especially with everything going on in the world, it’s important to make time for a human-to-human connection and check in on their mental health. By adding this personal touch to your 1:1s, you’ll build trust between you and your reports, and improve engagement and job satisfaction. 

Measure progress: What have you accomplished since we last connected?

Next, allow your report to share their achievements since you last touched base. Encourage them to point to outcomes and results, not just the work done. Grounding this portion of your 1:1 in performance data and metrics will empower your reports to prepare and give you both visibility into the facts. Look at changes in key metrics they are evaluated upon and take the time to explain any new important metrics they should be tracking. 

Tip: Using a performance intelligence platform, like Pathlight, can help your reports track their achievements, key metrics, and ongoing performance.

Align on priorities: What are you working on now? What are your goals until our next 1:1? 

Get an understanding on your report’s priorities and realign if goals have shifted. If you have a tool where you track progress, log goals—no matter how big or small—so that you can check in on them later. Assign metrics of success or outcomes to goals when possible—this helps your report know what they’re responsible for and how to measure their own success, thereby driving accountability. Documenting goals and priorities enables you to check in on them next time in the progress portion of your 1:1.

Understand obstacles, provide feedback, and offer support: What’s blocking you?

Take time to share feedback with your report, both positive or constructive, and ask for feedback from them on how things are going. Identify areas where their work might be blocked or they are facing challenges, offering solutions when possible or to escalate the issue. Offering support, such as unblocking them, troubleshooting together, or providing additional resources will not only help your report do more, but will also contribute to the trust you’re building. As a manager, you are your report’s advocate—making sure their work is running smoothly is a core part of your role. 

Tip: Take notes so you can follow up next time on what’s going well and what needs to be addressed. 

Look at the big picture: Are there any bigger career goals you’d like to be working towards? What skills are you hoping to learn?

More and more, employees are focused on development, learning, and growth. In fact, in Gallup’s report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, 59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job. They also revealed that they want annual reviews and development conversations to happen on an ongoing basis, not once a year. To that end, take time to talk about longer term goals and ambitions regularly, offering to support your reports in achieving them—one study suggests millennials prefer monthly feedback and development conversations. Through these discussions, help them identify the skills they need to reach their goals and metrics they can work on improving to see progress. Follow up often, provide resources, and track goals. 

Tip: Empower your report to drive these conversations by bringing up the topic regularly and asking them questions about their goals and how you can support them. While career development is your report’s own responsibility, it’s yours to create a supportive environment to have such conversations. 

Be a coach, not a robot

Especially in the hybrid and remote world we’re living in, your role as a manager is to support your reports as a coach—not a robot. In an HBR study, hundreds of discussions with millennials led researchers to understand that employees aren’t looking for managerial direction, but help with their personal development. To that end, it’s critical that you see your responsibility to coach, provide feedback, and support your reports. 

To do so, finding ways to empower yourself—with a 1:1 template, with performance intelligence, or with other resources—will help you focus on coaching your team. Your time as a manager shouldn’t be spent crunching data or struggling to juggle your reports—it should be focused on finding the highest points of impact and enabling them to achieve more, for themselves and your organization. Start by templatizing your 1:1s to make sure your meetings add value, stay consistent, and improve job satisfaction for both you and your reports.

If you’re looking for a tool to provide valuable real-time data and insights on performance to your team, as well as have better 1:1s, check out Pathlight.

Want to see a custom demo of Pathlight or get help finding the right plan? We'd love to chat.

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