The Power of 1-1 meetings

If as a People Manager, I have to give you one tip that would be to hold regular One-on-One meetings with your direct reports.

Usually the talk of holding these 1-1 meetings revolves around the modalities of scheduling like should we do it on weekly basis or once in a month. Or revolves around the modalities of how much you should talk vs. how much your direct report should talk. All of that is irrelevant. What is important is that the purpose of holding such meetings is to understand each other better.

It is not the team that consists of super stars that succeeds, but it is the team that knows each other well.

One on One meeting

(the original photo is here: )

Here are some other benefits of holding such meetings from my experience on top of this understanding:

Feelings are conveyed

In a typical workday, conversations revolve around getting things done. Technical discussion spring from task updates and project planning meeting consumes the day. You talk to your direct report many times but the focus is on the “Work” or “Task”. As you move into a specially scheduled 1-1 meeting with your team member, the focus immediately shifts to “Humans” and “Feelings”.

So I typically ask questions like these in such meetings:

“How do you feel about your current assignment?” or “Are you excited enough with the challenges we are offering?” or “Do you feel happy if we ask to work with team X?”

When your direct report answers such questions, you get a lot more understanding of the “human” on the other side and how that person “feels” or “operates”.

People feel special

Regardless of where you are in the hierarchy of your organization, your team knows that you are the busiest (and perhaps most costly) person in the team. So when you set everything aside and allocate time for your team members, they feel special and they feel acknowledged. Motivation then just becomes a side effect of such conversations.

That is why it is important to hold these meetings at some conference room rather than on your work desk to avoid any distractions. And that is why cancelling a scheduled 1-1 meeting sends a very wrong and opposite message of being special.

You share your feelings

Though it is value in having different personalities and having people of different capabilities in your team, it is always good to have them behave in the way you envision your team.

One of the quotes that I like from “The Casino” movie in which Robert Di Nero tells his direct report:

“There are three ways to do work. The wrong way, the right way and … my way”

As your team members express their feelings and talk about their emotions, it is always good to express your feelings. Acknowledge the things you like and mention the things that you don’t like in a way that they don’t feel badly but feel positively to change them.

Are you practicing 1-1 meeting in your team? What lessons you’d like to share?


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5 responses to “The Power of 1-1 meetings”

  1. Farrukh Latif says :

    The best forum to listen and share general, technical, non-technical, personal issues or anything one of you both would like to bring up is one-one meeting. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • majd says :

      Thanks Farrukh. So these meetings can be used to discuss “issues of mutual interest” to borrow a term from foreign office statements 🙂


  2. Sameer Purandare says :

    The ‘People feel special’ detail is the most appealing one, it brings up the confidence of the person. S/he might want to share few things in a one-on-one meeting that might not be suited in a group meeting given that particular timing.

    Congratulations Majd on yet another nice post!


    • majd says :

      Thanks Sameer and I’m glad that you liked it. You are right the people’s behavior in a group meeting is different than in the one-on-one setup.


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