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1:1 meetings will make you a better People Manager

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1:1 meetings will make you a better People Manager

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I manage an ECommerce team of 6 people, split across development, design/usability, merchandising and search marketing (SEO / Adwords). I sit and work with the team on a daily basis, but still have fortnightly, 30 minute 1:1 meetings with each team member and it’s probably the best invested 6 hours of my month.

What is a 1:1?

As a people manager, a 1:1 is an opportunity for your employee to talk about anything they want – personal or professional. Nine times out of ten it’s about work but it’s always good to bring up personal interest topics that they may have told you in the past.

As an employee, a 1:1 is an opportunity to improve your working environment, develop your career and vent any frustrations to the one person who can help you. If you don’t believe your manager can help you, it’s probably time for a new job.

Why are 1:1s important?

These regular meetings get to the heart of good people management – it’s a two way thing. If a manager invests selflessly in his or her team then they will be rewarded with increased trust, accountability, team harmony and employee development – all of which are good for business.

By not having 1:1s with everyone, you will typically instil a natural hierarchy by only meeting with more senior members of the team for work matters. This will create a sense of favouritism and alienate junior team members, creating disharmony – which, when I last checked isn’t good for business.

Basic 1:1 rules (CRE)

  1. Consistency – Must be at the same time every fortnight for each employee.
  2. Respect – It’s the employee’s meeting, so only they can reschedule or cancel it.
  3. Etiquette – The employee talks first, and can only be prompted if they have nothing to say.

Tips for both sides of the table

For an Employee, a 1:1 is for…

  • Your concerns, wishes and opinions to be heard by someone who is in a position to help and support you.
  • Developing your relationship with your manager, for them to understand you better.
  • Career development – asking for opportunities, feedback and mentoring.

…but it is not…

  • A time for you to negotiate a raise on a fortnightly basis (unless it’s annual review time!)

For a People Manager, a 1:1 is for…

  • Developing your relationship with your team members to build trust.
  • Understanding your employee’s concerns and drawing up actions to address them.
  • Providing positive feedback to motivate and reward your staff.
  • Providing constructive feedback to help your team improve* (see below)
  • Finding out what really goes on in your team. If you are honest, this will be reciprocated.
  • Soliciting feedback about your management style, or your manager peers in other parts of the business so you can all improve.

…but it is not…

  • *An opportunity to give someone a regular dressing down. If you do this then no one will ever want to have a 1:1 with you.
  • An opportunity to talk about yourself, or your own agenda (unless you are asked or there is time to spare).


A 1:1 sits at the core of good management and is one of the best investments a people manager can make. The holy grail for every manager should be to establish an underlying trust in their team, from which they can then engage, motivate and develop each person individually. By dedicating time to each person you are helping them to improve, in addition to you becoming a better manager and person yourself.

Additional 1:1 resources

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