More and more businesses–and their employees–are recognizing the value of regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings, whether we call them coaching or mentoring. This is exactly the opposite of those dreaded, unproductive, obligatory, wheel-spinning meetings that gobble up potentially productive time and leave so many people frustrated and resentful.

Done right, one-on-one meetings are beneficial on both sides of the table.  The employer gets the very best from the worker, while the worker feels valued and empowered. And when the relationship between manager and direct report is improved, everybody wins.

So why isn’t everybody doing it? The go-to response usually has something to do with time, or lack of time. Many employers argue that they have too many employees and if they tried one-on-ones, they’d never get anything else done.

If you think it is not worth it to make the time, you will definitely benefit from reading you will definitely benefit from reading Rebecca Knight’s recent article in the Harvard Business Review. It points out the many benefits and some great strategies for making this practice work in your company. “Your goal is to show your ‘commitment to helping your colleague develop and grow,’ but also to ‘step back, remember the organizational mandate, and think about how best you can work side-by-side with this person to get things done.'”

Here are the highlights:

  • Block regular time in your schedules
  • Prepare discussion points
  • Be fully present
  • Start positive
  • Problem solve
  • Ask questions about career plans
  • Express gratitude

The hardest but most beneficial strategy is to “be fully present.” Letting yourself get distracted, whether by email, text messages, phone calls, or anything else that takes your attention during one-on-ones, is worse than not meeting at all.

I also agree with the idea of both participants preparing discussion points ahead of time. If you can’t write down 3-5 things worth talking about, there’s probably no need for a meeting.

If you are interested in implementing or improving one-on-ones in your company, drop me a line at and we can set up a time to talk about it.




photo credit: NedraI 20161019-IMG_4693.jpg via photopin (license)