How to Run Better One-on-Ones

​A one-on-one meeting can be a fantastic opportunity to get on the same page with someone else, brainstorm ideas, ...

​A one-on-one meeting can be a fantastic opportunity to get on the same page with someone else, brainstorm ideas, resolve issues, and strengthen your professional relationship.

But it can also be a massive waste of time. Use the strategies below to maximize your time with your one-on-one partner.

Prepare an Agenda

Every meeting—no matter how casual—needs an agenda. When you walk into a meeting without an agenda, it’s far harder to maintain focus and cover everything you need to. Not to mention, you often waste time trying to decide what to talk about next.

Save precious minutes by deciding beforehand what you’ll discuss. You should also send your agenda to your meeting partner at least 24 hours in advance. They’ll have some time to prepare their thoughts and adapt the outline if necessary. You two will be able to hit the ground running when the actual meeting begins.

If your one-on-one is with your supervisor, you might be thinking, I can’t set the agenda: That’s their responsibility. On the contrary, most managers will be impressed by your initiative. Developing the agenda offloads some of their work and lets you get more out of the meeting.

Mix Up the Setting

Do you have every one-on-one in the exact same spot? Try changing your meeting place.
It might seem like a small thing, but new surroundings often spark creativity. You can walk around outside, visit a local coffee shop, or simply book a different conference room than you normally do.

You may be wondering how often you should vary locations. I like to meet somewhere new every time, but that might not be possible for you depending on the weather, your office, and what’s nearby.

Start On a High Note

To give your meeting a positive tone from the get-go, begin by describing a recent work victory—or if you’re the manager, asking the other person to share one.

It’s always valuable to bring attention to a professional win. The person who pulled it off feels great, and the person hearing about it learns more about their coworker’s strengths and what they can accomplish.

Plus, if you’re planning on giving or receiving constructive feedback later during the one-on-one, having a “cushion” of positive reinforcement can make a huge difference.

End With a Thank You

Your coworker put aside time in their busy schedule to meet with you, which means a thank you is in order. At the end of the meeting, say something along the lines of, “I appreciate you spending this time with me.”

Alternatively, you can mention your biggest takeaways. For example, you might conclude with, “It was great learning about your progress in X area and coming up with some ideas for solving Y. Thank you for a productive meeting.”