To support personal development effectively, we recommend that managers have weekly 1-2-1 meetings with their direct reports. This is an example of a guide for the direct reports on how to make the most out of their 1-2-1s. We'll be adding an example guide for managers in the near future — get in touch if you're keen to see an early draft of this guide!

Each week, you’ll have 30 uninterrupted minutes with your manager in your 1-2-1. 

To help you make the most of your 1-2-1, this guide covers:

  • Why we have 1-2-1s
  • The 1-2-1 agenda
  • Tips for great 1-2-1s

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them with your manager or HR.


Why we have 1-2-1s

We’ve found that weekly 1-2-1s with your manager can help you to:

  • Build a strong relationship with your manager
  • Get feedback and coaching
  • Take on more responsibility
  • Achieve more
  • And enjoy your work!

This is backed up both by our own experience and by research. In one of many experiments, Mark Horstman — author of The Effective Manager — reviewed 1,100 managers and saw measurable improvements in both results and retention of those doing weekly 1-2-1s.


The 1-2-1 agenda

The 1-2-1 agenda is simple:

  • The first 15 minutes is your time, to discuss topics that are important to you
  • The last 15 minutes are for your manager.

If you need more than 15 minutes, this is probably OK — just check with your manager if unsure. 

Be respectful of your manager’s time: the 1-2-1 should start and finish on time. While you only have one 1-2-1 with your manager, your manager be having weekly 1-2-1s with all of their direct reports (!)


Tips for great 1-2-1s

Here are 5 great tips to help you make good use of your 30 minutes:


Tip 1: Take a moment to prepare

To make the best use of your time, take a few minutes before the meeting to think about what you want to discuss. 

It can help to ask yourself these questions:

Headlines

  • Are there are major work or life events that I want to share?
  • Are there any major issues or concerns that I want to discuss?

Happiness

  • Am I happy in work?
  • Am I happy with my work-life balance?

Progress against goals

  • What were my biggest achievements since we last spoke?
  • Are we on track to achieve our team business goals?
  • Am I on track to achieve my personal business goals?
  • Am I on track to achieve my personal development goals?
  • Do any goals need updating?
  • What’s slowing down progress?

Manager support

  • Where do I need input from my manager to unblock upcoming tasks?
  • Where would input from my manager help me to accelerate or deliver more value from upcoming tasks?


Tip 2: Don’t just focus on work

The first goal of 1-2-1s is to build a strong relationship with your manager. A strong relationship will make it easier for your manager to support you, give feedback, provide coaching, and offer you more responsibility.

But it’s not possible to have a strong relationship if you only ever talk about work. 

So, if your kid has just started school and you’re super proud, or if you’re moving house and that’s causing stress, or if your football team won at the weekend and that’s important to you… share the news :)


Tip 3: Don’t try to cover everything, every time

Some weeks, you may have some major news to share and this could use up all of your time. That’s fine!

In other weeks, you may have your head down focusing on an urgent task for a customer. So you might choose to use your time to get your manager’s help. That’s fine too!

No news items or urgent tasks to discuss? You may find it useful to take your manager through your answers to the questions under “Tip 1”. This is a great way to share where you’re at and invite your manager to give input. 

If you run out of time without getting all the way down the list, that’s fine — the next one-to-one is only a week away.


Tip 4: Take notes and agree to-dos

While 1-2-1s should be relaxed, they should also be treated like any other work meeting. Your manager will be answering your questions and giving feedback. Your manager may provide coaching and delegate new tasks to you. You should make sure you have a record of what’s been shared and agreed. 

If there are any actions that you need to take after the 1-2-1 (“to-dos”), then you’ll want to confirm these actions at the end of the 1-2-1, and review whether that they have been completed in your next session.

Tip 5: Ask your manager where you can do more

On those rare occasions where you’ve covered everything, then why not proactively ask for coaching? Try out these questions for your manager:

  • What else can I do to improve?
  • What else can I do to make your life easier?

It’s a great opportunity to grow in your role, and your manager will love you for asking :)

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