One on One Meeting Template for Employees
Whether you are an employee who is yet to have your first one on one meeting with your manager or someone who has been having regular one on one meetings, this employee 1 on 1 meeting template is for you.
Kim Scott, Ben Horowitz, Andy Grove, Bill Campbell – what do these people have in common?
Yes, they are industry leaders, but they also vociferously advocate the most important meeting for managers and employees: the one on one meeting.
Whether you are an employee who is yet to have your first one on one meeting with your manager or you have been having regular one on one meetings, this employee 1 on 1 meeting template is for you!
Within the employee 1 on 1 meeting template, you will find some tips to have amazing conversations or liven up things by doing something different.
Without a proper framework, agenda, or mindset, the one on one meeting is likely to become just another work meeting.
What is the purpose of 1 on 1 meetings?
In his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz talks about the one on one meeting as the most fundamental form of conversation.
This is a free-form meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas, and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email, and other less personal and intimate mechanisms.
He emphasizes that the 1 on 1 meetings are for employees rather than managers, saying that they provide an excellent mechanism for information and ideas to flow up the organization.
In short, a one on one meeting is a dedicated space for you to have an open-ended, free-flowing, candid conversation with your manager.
It is a space for giving context, receiving guidance, coaching, mentorship, motivation, or even expressing frustrations.
Thus, it is more than an open-door policy. It is a regularly occurring meeting for you and your manager to connect and communicate as human beings, rather than boss and worker.
How to use this employee 1 on 1 meeting template
We have divided the employee 1 on 1 meeting template into three stages to help you understand:
- how you can go about preparing for the meeting,
- what you should do during the meeting, and
- how you should bolster your efforts after the meeting
This will provide all the relevant information you need to have a useful one on one meeting and get the most value out of it.
1Before your one on one meeting with your manager
Even before you step into your one on one meeting with your manager, you’ll want to do some preparation to keep things streamlined and productive.
We’ll discuss these preparatory steps in the first stage of our employee 1 on 1 meeting template.
What topics can you discuss in a one on one meeting with your manager?
Conversations in a one one one meeting revolve around four key areas: Motivation, Growth, Communication, and Work.
Your manager wants you to be happy at work. It is part of her role to ensure that you keep your intrinsic motivation alive so that you can put in your best work.
She may ask you questions like “Is there anything that can be changed at work that will make you happier?”
You’ll discuss challenges or roadblocks you’re facing and how to overcome them.
You’ll talk about improving your working environment, getting along with your co-workers, and contributing to your office culture.
You’ll want to discuss professional development and goals with your manager during the one on one meeting.
You can also seek help with personal development, such as enhancing communication skills and people skills, which indirectly benefits your company.
Your manager may ask you questions like “What projects would you like to work on? Is there anything you’d like to be more involved in?”
Communication cannot be emphasized enough. It is essential to avoid misunderstandings and demotivation.
Some conversations are tough, but you don’t want to let concerns fester and snowball into bigger issues.
The one on one meeting is where you can exchange feedback with your manager, helping her to help you perform better.
The idea is to not be surprised when the annual performance review rolls around.
Of course, you do touch upon work issues in your one on one meeting but you don’t turn it into a status update.
Find a different way, such as an email or a dashboard to update your manager.
Instead, you can have conversations around team strategy and how to improve processes with questions like “Does anything feel harder than it should be in your day-to-day work?”
How often should you have a one on one meeting with your manager?
There’s no hard and fast rule about how frequently you should have your one on one meetings.
They are a great opportunity to get frequent feedback from your manager and prevent issues from becoming worse.
We recommend having a one on one meeting at least once a week for best results.
It may seem too frequent, but you’ll agree that a lot can happen within a week’s time, which may need discussion with your manager.
Your computer may have stopped working, or you may have faced a problem with a co-worker.
You may be feeling overwhelmed by certain recent changes in your responsibilities.
Hence, the one on one meeting is your best chance to talk about such issues which matter.
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman is in favor of frequent meetings:
I’m a strong believer in doing 1 on 1 meetings with each of my reports every week.
If your manager is too busy to have weekly meetings, you can suggest that a one on one meeting is held every 10 days or so.
Take the initiative to increase the frequency of your meetings, even if your manager hasn’t done it yet.
Ideally, your meetings should last between 30 minutes and 60 minutes.
If you’re a remote worker, expect meetings to be longer because that’s the only dedicated time you get with your manager in lieu of everyday casual conversations or watercooler meetings.
The cadence depends entirely on the state of your working relationship with your manager.
Regular one on one meetings enable immediate feedback and promote honest communication, so don’t let too much time go by between meetings.
Where should you have a one on one meeting with your manager?
Did you know that it is a myth that you should have one on one meetings only in the office?
You’ll be surprised to find that sitting in a coffee shop or a taking a walk in the company premises may spark better conversations.
There’s no rule that conversations should be strictly professional or that you should be sitting during the one on one meeting.
So, the answer to where you should have your one on one meetings is that you can have it wherever you feel comfortable and not intimidated.
How should you prepare for a one on one meeting with your manager?
Managers’ schedules are usually inundated with meetings.
You can set your one on one meeting apart from the chatter by communicating boundaries, showing initiative, and approaching the one on one meeting with a growth mindset.
Here are some steps you can take to give your one on one meeting a structured boost:
If you aren’t already doing so, extend the idea of setting the one on one meeting agenda collaboratively to your manager.
A collaborative agenda helps you to:
- ensure that talking points important to you are covered and your manager is prepared to address them.
- see which points your manager wants to discuss and prepare for the conversation.
In this way, you don’t waste time gathering background information and can get straight to the point.
Setting a shared agenda communicates that the one on one meeting is about you, but its ownership and accountability lies with both of you.
Ben Horowitz says that if you like structure, employees should set the agenda and send it to the manager in advance, which communicates to the employee that it’s their meeting.
When you show that you’re proactive, it will push your manager to meet your expectations.
You’ll want to approach the meeting with the mindset of “I will openly discuss my concerns and figure out solutions together” instead of “I will respond only if she asks me.”
Your manager is not a mind reader. She doesn’t know how you feel about your current project.
It is in your interests to clearly articulate your thoughts, suggestions, and solutions.
You should talk about your current work and how you see yourself growing in the company.
If you feel you deserve a promotion or a raise, you’ll want to start a conversation about it.
2During the one on one meeting with your manager
How you communicate with your manager during the one on one meeting will have a lasting effect on the outcome of the meeting.
You cannot expect to get the results you want if you conduct the meeting in a haphazard manner, with no prior thought.
Our employee 1 on 1 meeting template will help you approach the meeting in a structured way–set an agenda, timebox your talking points, take detailed notes when discussing the talking points, and assign action items to each talking point with a deadline to meet goals.
How do you do a one on one meeting with your manager?
For more productive and effective one on one meetings with your manager, you’ll want to remember the following steps:
1 Set a collaborative agenda
As mentioned previously, a shared agenda ensures priority talking points are included and signals shared accountability of the meeting. It also helps your manager come prepared for the meeting.
2 Take insightful notes
Detailed notes help document important talking points, their pros and cons, suggestions given, and outcomes. These notes can be referred to in subsequent meetings to maintain continuity and momentum.
3 Follow-up on action items of previous meeting
One on one meetings are invaluable for things like tracking career development goals over a period of time.
You can refer to your notes to see what goals were set previously and how far you have come to achieving them.
Following up on action items set in the previous meeting determines what work has been done and how much more needs to be done.
4 Set action items in current meeting with deadlines
You’ll find that action items are a prerequisite to getting the outcomes you want out of your one on one meetings.
Timeboxing them ensures that goals are met within a reasonable period of time.
What do you say in a one on one meeting?
There are some topics you must definitely touch upon during your one on one meeting.
The meeting is meant to be free-wheeling and honest so that you can connect with your manager properly instead of making it a formal talk.
The key to a productive one on one meeting is:
- to spend as little time as possible on things like status updates, which can be discussed during other meetings like team meetings, and
- to spend as much time as possible on topics close to your heart, which will enable you to grow professionally and bond with your manager.
We’d like to share some dos and don’ts about your discussion in one on one meetings.
- Treat the 1 on 1 meetings as “check-ins.”
- Discuss project updates. (Send a bulleted summary via email instead!)
- Share only problems or complain about the team or the company’s shortcomings.
- Share a collaborative agenda ahead of the meeting.
- Start meetings on a positive note.
- Discuss possible solutions and pros and cons, and ask for your manager’s suggestions (instead of throwing the problem at her and expecting resolutions)
- Talk about progress on goals set in previous meetings instead of waiting for quarterly/annual performance reviews.
- Ask for specific and actionable feedback, such as “How can I do better in my current project?” instead of a general question, “How am I doing?”
Most importantly, remember to relax and connect with your manager as a person, not just a direct report.
She’ll want to know who you are outside of work, and this will help you improve your working relationship.
You’ll also benefit from planning the next meeting by creating action items and deadlines.
These can be reviewed in the subsequent one on one meeting.
You can use a one on one meeting software to organize your agenda, talking points, action items, notes, and takeaways.
Effective One on One Meetings
We built a software that automatically schedules, lets you set agenda, take notes, exchange feedback and track actions – all in one place.
How can you navigate the conversation and open up with your manager on important issues?
Your one on one meetings can act as a GPS system to help you navigate your goals, provided you ask the right questions. Be honest, yet respectful and empathetic when you communicate with your manager.
We understand if you’re not sure about the correct way to initiate the conversation, so we have a few questions you can use.
- Are there any significant changes happening down the line in 6 months?
- How are we working to stand apart from our competitors?
- Have we made good progress on our goals as a team?
- What do you think I can do differently in my current project to be more productive?
- How would you rate my productivity in the past week?
- How can I improve my skills?
Communication and feedback:
- Do you think I am a good team player?
- How can I improve my communication?
- Did I do well in the last project? Where did I do poorly?
Career growth and personal development:
- How does my role evolve in the next 6 months/1 year?
- What L&D opportunities can I make use of?
- How can I support/train/mentor other team members?
Motivation and company culture:
- How can I contribute more to the company culture?
- What do you do to avoid burnout?
Supporting your manager and managing up:
- Can I do something (more/less) that would help you?
- What are the challenges you face when leading our team?
3After the one on one meeting with your manager
Wait, your job is not done as soon as the one on one meeting is over!
This section of our employee 1 on 1 meeting template will show you how you should follow up on the action items assigned during the meeting to see if you need inputs or data from your manager to fulfill them.
You’ll also do well to provide updates to your manager on the progress of the action items.
How to ensure the success of your one on one meeting?
Action is the most important thing for the success of a one on one meeting.
Not taking appropriate actions on the action items discussed in the meeting defeats the whole purpose of the meeting.
Focus on actions
You’ll want to focus on actions after the meeting is done. There will be certain action items for you and some for your manager to work on.
It is possible that you need your manager’s inputs and guidance to complete your action items that were decided upon during the meeting.
Thus, you must track these action items religiously and take action to ensure that the meeting is a success for both of you.
Gently remind your manager with a suitable length of time about your dependencies.
- Keep following up with her and provide updates about the work you’ve done towards the action items listed during the meeting.
- This will communicate to your manager that you’re both accountable for the action items and need to work together to meet the set goals.
How to request a one on one meeting with your manager (Free Email Template)
So are you ready to have a one on one meeting but your manager isn’t showing any signs of scheduling one?
You can write to her requesting a meeting and specifying the reason you want the meeting.
We have a few templates to get you started:
Hi (name of manager),
I was hoping if it would be possible to schedule a one on one meeting with you on a recurring basis to discuss my performance and growth, and provide regular feedback with a focus on continuous development.
Please let me know.
Hi (name of manager),
I would love to start having recurring one on one meetings with you. It is my belief that these meetings will be an opportunity for us to continue building a great relationship between us.
I also believe that these recurring meetings will help me be my most productive self with the help of continuous feedback and guidance from you.
It would be great if we could block a time and date comfortable for both of us for our first one on one meeting.
We can either fix the same slot as a recurring event in our calendars or we can discuss how to proceed at our first one on one meeting.
I am really excited and I look forward to having my first one on one meeting with you.
When done right, the one on one meeting is the best way for direct reports and managers to develop a strong working relationship, connect meaningfully on important matters, and meet professional goals.
Want to become a better manager?
Start with great 1-on-1s to build high performing teams.