Notes on Weekly Management One on Ones

One-on-one’s are weekly 30-minute meetings between a manager and each person that reports to him or her.

The guys at Manager Tools say that they are the most effective management tool that they know of. They have a series of three podcats on one-on-one’s along with a worksheet that provides some additional details.

I found the podcasts so helpful that I took some notes over them. Here are my notes.

The purpose of 1:1’s is communication. A culture of communication, in turn, is a key ingredient of organization-wide alignment and coordination across departments. Communication is the most important lever an organization has for performance.


  1. Regularly scheduled.
  2. Rarely missed. This means “always reschedule,” instead of canceling. [I would say that sometimes, it just won’t be possible to reschedule and a week will have to be missed.]
  3. Primary focus is on the team member.
  4. Take notes. Keep in a notebook or electronically, and in each meeting refer back to follow-up items.

Here is the standing agenda that seems to work best:

  1. 10 minutes: Them. Agenda items they bring and whatever they want to talk about.
  2. 10 minutes: You. Agenda items you’ve brought; updates that will be useful to them to know. Touch base on status of projects and quarterly goals if desired.
  3. 10 minutes: The future/development. (If there is time left for this.)

To prepare, they suggest that it can be helpful to review 5 questions. [What I basically do is review notes from the last meeting and pull together agenda items I’ve collected along other items that come to mind (updates that will be useful, etc.).]

Anyway, here are the five questions they suggest:

  1. What things in my notes from last meeting do I need to follow up on? Then write them on your agenda.
  2. What do I need to be sure to communicate to this person?
  3. What positive feedback can I give this person?
  4. What adjusting feedback am I going to give this peson?
  5. Is there something I can delegate? (“There is a gross under-delegation epidemic in America.”)
  • Tom Dodds

    The logistics of this approach are great. But, I find this works best for front-line staff. For managers, you may not need to check in with them as often.

    Another helpful tool is Marcus Buckingham’s 12 questions from First Break All the Rules. He correlated employee longevity and productivity with the answers to these questions. It helps from a stewardship standpoint for employee development so that we as managers help them to do what they do best every day with their God given talents.

    I will sprinkle these in quarterly.

    On a scale from 0 to 10:

    1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
    2. Do I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
    3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
    4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
    5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
    6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
    7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
    8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
    9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
    10. Do I have a best friend at work?
    11. In the last six months, has someone talked to me about my progress?
    12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

  • Adriel

    Hi Matt,
    came hunting for the worksheet link on this post and it looks like the content got moved. Took me a little more searching, but here’s the link if you want to update it:

    Thanks for finding these. Super helpful.

  • Matt

    Thanks for tracking that down–now updated!