How to do 1-1s

Why one-to-ones? 

The Career Development Review process for Professional Services Staff is based around regular one-to-ones or catch-up meetings between managers and individual staff members.

One-to-ones are known to strengthen relationships between managers and their team members. The concept is straightforward: meet regularly to discuss progress on goals, engagement, professional development, wellbeing and more.

While sometimes it can feel time-consuming, the return on the investment of time is worth it. Through regular conversations you can develop trust. In turn, trust in the workplace solidifies teams, creating a safe environment for people to work in new and collaborative ways.

How often one-to-ones are held is dependent on the role of the team member, it will differ role to role and area to area. However, we recommend that they are held at least once a month as a face-to-face meeting. This can be combined with more frequent, briefer Teams conversations.

There is no ideal length for a one-to-one. For some roles, a quick 30 mins weekly virtual chat can be effective and then the monthly face to face meeting might be as long as an hour to an hour and half. A little structure for face to face one-to-one meetings can go a long way. With preparation, a collaborative agenda, and thoughtful note taking one-to-ones can be super effective.


How to prepare for a one-to-one

What is said in the one-to-one should stay between the manager and their direct report. The manager should focus on asking questions and listening attentively to understand the feedback. Both parties may want to agree some questions to shape their discussions, but in general stay open to whichever direction the conversation goes in. 

Things to prepare for your one-to-ones
 Managers should Individuals should 
Prepare areas they would like to be updated on. Come prepared to discuss progress 
 Actively listen Share progress openly 
Give and receive feedback Give and receive feedback 
Support the learning and development required. Identify learning required.
Ask after the individuals wellbeing. Take responsibility for own wellbeing.
Agree clear next steps. Take notes of next steps.
Be open minded. Be open minded.
Adapt to the needs of the individual rather than stick to a set agenda  

The progress review form can be used on an ongoing basis to capture any progress being made against agreed objectives that is discussed. This will be helpful when it comes to the June/July end of year review meeting each year which is used to capture annual progress. 

As part of the one-to-one, giving and receiving feedback to each other is key. For guidance on how to do this effectively see the separate Guidance on Giving and Receiving Feedback.

How to Wrap up the one-to-one

Make sure to wrap up the talking points and if relevant, agree any actions to be carried out by the next meeting. Managers and team members should take notes so they can keep track of topics and add additional context on topics discussed so they can quickly review them, before the next one-to-one.