Why one-on-one meetings should be a manager’s secret weapon (and why they’re usually not)

One-on-one meetings should be a manager’s secret weapon. So why do they so frequently miss the mark?

December 6, 2021
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How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
Show us your most-used emoji.
What was the most unique style or fashion trend you ever embraced?
What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
What is your favorite knock-knock joke?
Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

Imagine you’ve just called customer service. You’ve finally got a human on the line, and you carefully explain your very complicated problem in detail. When you’re done, the rep says, “Sorry to hear that. Let me transfer you to my manager.” A new voice says, “Hi, what seems to be the problem?” 

How’s it feel?

Rage hang up much?

Now imagine you’re an employee about to pop into your one-on-one with your manager. At last week’s meeting, you detailed three issues that are preventing you from making progress on an important long-term project. Your manager told you that they’d come to today’s meeting with  solutions for busting those blockers. When they get to the meeting, their first words are, “So...what are we talking about today?” 

How’s it feel?

Seethe silently much?
What’s Sabotaging My One-On-One Meetings?

What went wrong in both of these scenarios? It’s pretty simple; important information was not captured or transferred across conversations. Why? Because there was no structure in place to make sure that important information was documented. As a result, in both cases, stakeholders important to the success of a business feel, pardon our French, “pissed and dissed.” Not what we’re going for. 

Effective One-On-One Meetings Signal Respect While Boosting Morale and Productivity

So what can we do about it? 

Documentation and structure are the magic ingredients that give any meeting — but especially one-on-one meetings — superpowers to:

  • Build trust by making employees feel seen, heard and valued. The positive impact of an employee knowing their manager is really listening, capturing feedback and taking their input seriously cannot be overstated. 
  • Accelerate results. When managers and employees both walk away from meetings with clear next steps and are both held accountable for taking them, energy and momentum builds. 
  • Keep two-way communication happening. Regularly asking for and sharing feedback is one of the most important ways for managers to help their direct reports grow and improve. 
How To Make Every One-On-One Meeting More Awesome

Ready to bask in the glow of amazing one-on-one meetings? Us too.

We created an easy-to-use, customizable template — something we call a “Flow” in Assembly — to support better conversations and documentation that leads to way better results.

We’ve pre-built a series of questions for you to use in our One-On-One With Direct Reports Flow template — and we’ve made it easy for you to customize.

1:1 Flow in the Assembly Dashboard
Structure during a one-on-one meeting is critical. Asking this open-ended question, “Anything you need me to start, stop or keep doing?” each week not only provides a structure, it encourages open and honest feedback and identifies pain points quickly and clearly.

Our One-On-One With Direct Reports Flow is more than just a centralized place to document meetings — although it is that too. It also uses multiple formats — from open-ended questions to scale rankings to multiple choice questions — to help employees and managers:

  • Document important goals, KPIs, and outcomes
  • Identify and address blocks to progress
  • Regularly ask big-picture questions 
  • Get feedback including suggestions for improvement
  • Have fun and break the ice with team activities
Easily add your own customized blocks to a template using our handy drop-down to structure meetings in the way that best supports you and your direct report.
Ready To Try Out Our One-On-One Meeting Template? 

Sign up for free today and give our One-On-One Meeting Flow a try! You’ll get access to this and — bonus! — more than thirty other templates you can put to work today. 

Add structure, transparency, and accountability to one-on-one meetings. Easily edit, add and adjust Flow to match your preferences and needs. Get started today - we can’t wait to hear how it works for you!

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