Meetings make up a large proportion of our working day. Hardly a day goes by without several. In fact, back-to-backs are probably more commonplace!

Of all the meetings we attend as leaders, monthly (or fortnightly) one-on-ones with our direct reports are one of the most significant.

One-on-ones are often overridden by what seem to be more urgent or important matters. There’s been the odd occasion where I have postponed or even cancelled a one-on-one, neglecting to give it the preparation and thought it deserves.

One-on-one meetings enable us to:

1. Ascertain motivation levels. Motivation is the key to performance. How motivated are they right now? Is there anything that is going on in their private life which is having an impact on their work?  What is currently driving them to perform at their best (or getting in the way of that happening)?

2. Address any performance issues before they become serious.  Often, when we first notice an area for improvement in one of our staff, it may be minor. This is the time to talk about it, before it becomes a big issue for them and for you.  One-on-ones are a great mechanism for feedback.

3. Highlight good performance you have noticed. The best positive feedback is timely and one-on-ones aid us to do this.

4. Ensure their Performance Development Plan is a LIVE document (instead of being shoved in the draw and brought out once or twice a year). Talking about ‘PDPs’ in one-on-ones means there are no surprises when you have the annual or six-monthly performance appraisals.

5. Receive feedback from them.  What are you doing that is supporting or hindering their progress? The key is to enable the flow of communication to go both ways within an organisation, so their feedback is a vital part of making this happen.

6. Reinforce important messages about change or company direction.  This is also an opportunity to garner feedback from them about various initiatives i.e. do they support the change or not? How are they being affected by the change?

7. Brainstorm ideas and solutions for team problems or challenges.  Remember, you do not have all the answers. A problem affecting the team could be solved by discussing their perspective in your one-on-one.  This can be particularly effective if a team member is shy and therefore less likely to pipe up in a group situation.

8. To facilitate exploration of areas in their job they are struggling with.  This is where you as a leader can coach them.

9. To strengthen the rapport and connection between you both. One-on-ones are a great way to ‘put money in the bank’ for this vital working relationship.

10. To act as a litmus test for the mood of the team as a whole.  Meeting with every team member individually within a month will give you a better gauge of how the team is performing overall.

What are some of the other benefits of one-on-one meetings? 
Are you giving one-on-ones the attention they deserve?