Employee Engagement Employee Recognition Employee Retention

[Template] A manager's guide to one-on-one employee meetings

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Have you (or your HR representative) scheduled your one-on-one employee meetings for the year ahead yet? If so - good job! If not, we highly recommend you get on it ASAP.

There are many different strategies to effectively maintain employee engagement in the workplace, but most of them tend to boil down to one essential point - you need to communicate with your people. 


Giving effective employee feedback is key if you want to enjoy the benefits of a happily engaged crew who arrive at work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to bring their A-game and contribute to the well-oiled internal machinations of your enterprise. This is why it is so important to make the time for regular check-ins to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.

This is not just conjecture either. The clever folks agree. 

Studies have found a direct link between employee feedback and performance improvement, as well as overall motivation. Additionally, statistics show that more than 40% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, and that 82% of personnel appreciate both positive and negative feedback if it helps them to improve their work. 


Here are 15 steps you can take to get the most out of your one-on-one employee meetings

1. Never cancel or postpone if you can help it

Your employees should know that they can bargain on this time slot to discuss anything they need to. When things are tough, they can use it to seek guidance or support. When things are going well, they can look forward to sharing and celebrating their achievements with their manager. 

2. Have benchmarks ready as reference

When discussing performance, it helps if you can do so at the hand of certain benchmarks or KPIs. If this is your first meeting with a personnel member, use it to establish a status quo of this kind. They need to know what they are shooting for, and what success in their role looks like from your point of view. 

3. Work according to a mutually beneficial agenda

The most time-efficient way of conducting any kind of meeting is to work according to a predetermined agenda. Have a list of things that you want to discuss from a managerial standpoint, and reach out to the employee in question a week or so in advance to see if there are any particular points they would like to touch on.  

4. Tailor an employee-specific game plan 

Work with each employee to tailor a roadmap for their growth within the business. Start with where they are, and then determine where they want to be, where you need them to be and how these goals overlap. Then break it down in terms of the behaviours that will get them to that point. 

5. Be authentic and approachable

The only way that you are ever going to get valuable feedback from an employee is if you are able to be authentic and approachable. Otherwise, a one-on-one meeting will simply be another occasion where they smile, nod and tell you what they think you want to hear. 

6. Tick off their previous objectives

Start the meeting by looking at the growth and development objectives you specified in the previous meeting to see how they are getting along with those. These are the action items you need to tick off. 

7. Check in on a personal level

Create a space where they can share anything from their personal lives that may have bearing on their performance at work. Perhaps a child moved schools and needed more support, or a parent moved in with them during the pandemic, etc.

8. Unpack any niggling issues

Now is the time to find out if your employee needs any additional tools or support to do their job to the best of their ability. Perhaps they are battling with dependencies when they work remotely, etc. Get to the crux of the issue and see what can be done to smooth the way for a happier work life for all involved. 

9. Share your feedback

Once this has been discussed, it’s time to share your own feedback, ideally based on a 360-degree appraisal.  

READ MORE: 360 Performance review template and how to use it


10. See how they’re feeling about morale

Productivity is one thing, morale and engagement are quite another. Ask your employee to share their feelings about the general ‘vibe’ among their team members, and if they believe that there is anything that could be done to improve it. 

11. Celebrate the wins

If there is cause for congratulations, now would be the time to do so in person. For employee recognition and rewards to have the most impact, it’s best if there is a peer-on-peer element as well, but while you have the time, the meeting can also be used to thank them sincerely in your own capacity. 

12. Discuss next steps

Get your action items in order. These will be the things they need to focus on, and you need to address from a managerial standpoint, between this meeting and the next. 

13. Send a coaching email 

Follow the meeting with an email with the main points that were discussed during the meeting, as well as the action items mentioned in point #12. 

14. Make a few notes of your own 

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good practice to keep some notes of your own in a personnel file so you can refer back to it at a later stage if need be. These are your personal observations. 

15. Keep it up

One-on-one meetings work best when they happen frequently and at regular intervals. Set the date for your next meeting as soon as your employee leaves the office or meeting room. 

There you have it - 15 steps you need to take to ensure that those all-important one-on-one employee meetings hit the mark. Bookmark this page for easy reference and check back soon for more insider info on keeping your team engaged and inspired. 


In the meantime, subscribe to our YouTube channel for short and snappy videos that unpack the importance of employee recognition and reward, and how you can implement it at your company to reach your business objectives


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