1:1, Books, Management

The Secrets Behind Great One-on-One Meetings


Swamped by meetings? Cancelling or shortening one-on-ones is not a good idea, as Elizabeth Grace Saunders writes in the Harvard Business Review.

With my recent responsibility of being a line manager, I had started to think about

  • How to make the most out of one-on-ones with my direct report?
  • How to judge the success of one-on-ones?

One of the books I enjoyed reading is “The Secrets Behind Great One-on-One Meetings” by Esther Schindler. It is only 37 pages long and is packed with useful hints and tips for new line managers.

In chess, all the pieces are not uniform. You need to know how each piece needs to be moved, carefully plan their current and future moves to win. This is contrary to playing checkers where all pieces are uniform, interchangeable and share similar moves. Similarly, each direct report is different. To understand their unique eccentricities and abilities in order to bring the best out of them, personal time with direct reports in a safe setting is crucial. Having one-on-ones provide such an opportunity.

Though, one-to-one is the team member’s meeting, many-a-times the team members

  • … may not have anything to discuss
  • … may give a quick update of what they have been up to and remain quiet
  • … may be overloaded with work and hence unprepared to talk to you during the meeting

If the manager does not facilitate well, the meetings can turn out to be terrible and directionless.

The book has some great suggestions about how to make the most out of one-on-ones by setting up an agenda.  Best one-on-ones help in building an ongoing and fruitful relationship between the manager and direct reports. So I am thinking, why not give this suggestion a try?

Assuming, I try the suggestions from the book, other online articles and valuable advice from other line-managers, it obvious to think – ‘How can I measure my success in one-on-ones?’ The book has a section on that too. If you are eager to get your hands on this book, get it for free from here.

Recommended reading about one-to-one meetings: