How to run a 1-2-1

One of the bedrocks of team management is putting aside time for each of your people to talk about their performance.

My favourite method is to institute a 1-2-1 regime where you get together with your staff for an hour a month and just speak about how things have gone and where you see them going.

Now you may decide to have different time frames, for instance, you may decide that in a fast moving company you want to do them more frequently for a shorter period of time, or you may decide that you want to do weekly 1-2-1s with your new staff whilst they are on probation.

But either way if you want to be an awesome manager then you need to speak with your team.

What’s the point

Motivating your team is all about getting engagement, being part of a shared goal and letting people understand where they fit in and what is expected of them.

If you are the sort of manager who doesn’t bother discussing this sort of stuff with your reports then you are probably operating at slightly below average and no-one likes that.

What outcomes do you want from the meeting?

One of the best methods of making sure your meetings are ultra productive is to understand what you want from the meeting before you go in.

When I run 1-2-1s I look for several outcomes;

1 I want to develop a shared view of how the last month went

2 I want to develop a shared view of what needs to be achieved in the next month

3 I want to let the employee know how they are doing overall, especially if the company has some form of annual appraisal or bonus scheme.

4 I want my direct reports to have a confidential forum where they can raise things that are troubling them and where we can work on a solution

5 I want a formal method of saying thank you for their hard work during the month

6 I want to reinforce to them where they fit into my plans and how I see their career developing.

So how do you actually run the 1-2-1?

For my formal ones, such as the annual appraisal then there will probably be a specific form to fill in but for my monthly meetings I generally prefer a more relaxed style.

I take notes, and I refer to them in future meetings, I’ll also use the goals we set at the start of the year as a kind of touchstone to measure their current performance against.

In general though the meeting starts with me simply saying ‘how do you think this month has gone?’.

This does a couple of things; it gives me an understanding of how each of my reports sees the last month in term of workload and their performance but also as an open question (one without a yes/no answer) it allows them to speak about what is concerning them.

At points I will bring it back to my three main themes, how has it gone, what will we do in the future and how is this aligning with the team and company goals.

Overall though you need to find your own style.

Beware of people telling you that one way is better than another, you need to match the style of your 1-2-1s with your style of management.

Overall though you need to remember that this is a forum for the employee, it’s not for you to spend an hour moaning at them and telling them about your cat.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Don’t use it as a semi-disciplinary- that’s not what a 1-2-1 is for
  • Don’t cancel or rearrange unless you absolutely have to
  • Don’t expect instant results – people need time to get used to the format
  • Don’t try and do some form of group 1-2-1, it never works


  • Explain the format of the meeting and what the aim is
  • let things flow and if they go slightly off tangent then that’s fine, you want your reports to feel comfortable. You can bring them back on point after a reasonable time
  • Be positive – OK so not everyone is going to be a superstar but you can find some positive stuff from everyone’s month
  • Ask what people are looking for from their work. What do they want to achieve? Where do they want to go? What help do they need?

And finally

Don’t forget to say thank you.

Even if things have gone badly, you need to find some method of ending the meeting on a positive.

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