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1:1 meeting templates

Come prepared for your next 1:1

This template provides a structured approach to preparing for, conducting, and following up on 1:1 meetings, which can help to build stronger relationships.

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Last updated

13 May 2024

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Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Lara Leganger

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Digital communication methods allow managers to connect with employees more frequently than ever. Company leaders and supervisors can send emails, create digital memos, use internal communications apps, and even communicate through SMS. While each of these communication styles has its place, they don't always address the human factor of communication.

One-on-one meetings between employees and managers are an essential part of workplace communications. They allow managers to connect with employees and provide essential feedback. When employees meet with their manager regularly, they’re more than twice as likely to be engaged at work. Yet, not all meetings hit their mark. While 94% of managers schedule one-on-one meetings with direct reports, only 20% of these meetings are deemed effective.

So, where do these meetings go wrong? A one-on-one with a direct report needs to be more than a quick conversation with vague intentions. It should have a strategic purpose and promote a flow of information. Here, we explore the purpose of 1:1 meetings, topics to cover, and share templates for different types of 1:1 meetings with employees. 

What is the purpose of a 1:1 meeting?

A 1:1 meeting between any level of supervisor and employee has the potential to be effective for a variety of purposes. In the most basic sense, it offers an opportunity to exchange information. 

One-to-one meetings serve as a check-in to exchange constructive feedback and discuss an employee's role in the company during various points in the employee journey. 

Topics to cover in a 1:1 meeting

Unless the meeting was scheduled for a specific purpose outside of a typical routine, topics in a 1:1 meeting should surround performance, expectations, and potential for the future. The meeting should extract meaningful dialogue from both parties and address specific concerns as they arise. 

Useful topics to cover in a 1:1 meeting include:

  • Sharing feedback, praise, and constructive criticism

  • Top priorities

  • Career development

  • Salary and possible promotions

  • Expectations

13 templates for 1:1 meetings

Routine one-on-one meetings touch on different topics and help employers and managers stay on the same page regarding goals and successes. Yet, without proper preparation, meetings can be unproductive and waste your employees' time. To get the most out of 1:1 meetings with employees, you need to be organized and focused.

These meeting templates cover a variety of situations and can help you conduct fruitful meetings with your employees: 

First one-on-one meeting with a new employee

The first one-on-one meeting with a new employee can feel a little awkward. You'll want to include some casual conversation to break the ice and ask questions surrounding the new employee experience

This template from Manage Better includes general lifestyle questions as well as questions about the current work experience and employee goals.

Best questions to ask in your first 1:1 meeting

One-on-one meetings provide a great environment for both parties to ask questions and learn additional information. These questions can help both managers and employees gather added knowledge.

Questions for managers to ask employees

  • What do you like to do outside of work? 

  • What are you enjoying most about working here?

  • What are your biggest challenges in the workplace right now?

  • How do you like to communicate?

  • What are your professional ambitions? What type of career development opportunities are you seeking?

Questions for employees to ask their manager

  • How do you prefer to communicate?

  • What's the best way to ask for your input and feedback?

  • What kind of skills and training should I seek out?

  • What should I know about your leadership style or approach?

  • What would you like to see me accomplish in the next month/six months/year?

Skip-level meeting

A skip-level meeting allows a senior manager to meet with an employee without their direct supervisor present. The meeting can allow upper management to gather unfiltered information from employees that can help improve the employee experience and the organization as a whole. This meeting may require more effort to establish rapport and direct questions to gather essential information. 

This template from Uptick provides several questions in various categories. 

Weekly one-on-one meeting

This Dovetail template is designed to help managers and team leaders conduct productive and meaningful one-on-one meetings with team members. 

The structured approach provides information for preparing for, conducting, and following up on one-on-one meetings. It also includes note-taking for addressing concerns or challenges and providing feedback and support. The template provides structure while remaining flexible enough to cover a variety of topics, making it perfect for routine use. 

Monthly one-on-one meeting

If your 1:1 meetings with direct reports are restricted to once a month, you may need a template that offers more freedom to cover a wider selection of subjects. 

This template from Atlassian is designed to be filled out by the manager and shared with the employee before a routine meeting occurs. The flexible format allows managers to include multiple subjects and add notes for follow-up.

Quarterly performance review meeting

Quarterly performance reviews provide an opportunity to celebrate successes, reflect on completed projects, and plan for the future. 1:1 quarterly performance review meetings allow you to recognize each employee for their efforts and help them recognize potential career goals. They also help align employee and company goals. 

This quarterly performance template from Quantum Workplace provides a simple guide that can lead to a more in-depth conversation between manager and employee.

One-on-one coaching

While micromanaging is generally best avoided, one-on-one coaching meetings can help employees celebrate victories and shape their careers. These meetings can also help you keep employees motivated and learn more about their intentions for their future within the company. A coaching session is most effective when the format is flexible and based on employee goals. 

This template from International Coaching Academy provides a series of questions that take the meeting through the complete process of setting goals through recording outcomes.

Compensation review meeting

A compensation review is a conversation with an employee about the salary range for the assigned position and a potential raise. Compensation covers pay and other benefits provided to the employee by the company. By conducting a review every six months, you can be sure you're providing fair and competitive compensation. 

This template from Airgram covers all the basics and closes with questions to determine the employees' satisfaction with the update.

Remote one-on-one meeting

As remote and hybrid roles are becoming more common across many industries, meetings often occur remotely. Whether you're communicating with a team or an individual, a remote meeting should encourage open communication and help strengthen collaboration. 

Before conducting a remote meeting, you'll need to be sure your employees are set up to collaborate virtually and have the tools to conduct a professional meeting. 

This remote team meeting template from Atlassian covers all the vital categories and can be used for 1:1 or team meetings. 

Goal-setting one-on-one meeting

A goal-setting meeting requires a more specific structure. You'll want to include questions that review goals and discuss how the employee is working toward those goals. The meeting should provide room for praise and encouragement as well as ways to change course if necessary. 

This template from Hypercontext offers examples for questions surrounding objectives and key results.

Peer one-on-one meeting

Peer 1:1 meetings are designed to help different departments work successfully together. Managers who take the time to improve communications throughout the entire organization reap the benefits of happier, more engaged teams. Peer one-on-ones are similar to manager/employee meetings in that both teams communicate their goals and ideas. 

This simple template from Plai highlights simple questions that encourage open dialogue between coworkers.

End of the year one-on-one meeting

The year's end provides you with an ideal time to reflect on the successes and challenges of a defined period. It's a great time to set goals for the future as well. An end-of-the-year meeting should include an in-depth conversation that acknowledges the contribution the employee makes to the company and sets the tone for your relationship in the coming year. 

This template from Know Your Team provides several questions to prompt an open dialogue with employees and strengthen relationships.

Employee offboarding one-on-one meeting

It's important to conduct a meeting when an employee leaves your company. These meetings allow you to gain a unique perspective of the employee experience at your company and a clear understanding of why employees choose to move on. 

An offboarding meeting sets a positive tone no matter why employees leave and can help boost morale throughout your company. Your meeting should include questions about the employee's opinion of the working environment as well as their reason for leaving. 

This comprehensive template from Hugo provides a wealth of information and ideas to center your questions around.

Sales one-on-one meeting

This template from Hubspot is structured to benefit the employee with questions that encourage effective dialogue. The agenda begins with open-ended questions to recap the previous week, goes on to review performance, and ends with a discussion to set upcoming goals. 

How do you write a 1:1 meeting invitation?

Most often, a meeting invite will be a request to schedule routine 1:1 meetings in the future. The initial email should work to schedule the first meeting, provide essential information, and set expectations. 

To help new employees feel at ease, write an encouraging invitation that serves these purposes:

  • Schedule a day and time for weekly meetings

  • Share what your employee should expect from the meeting

  • Reiterate how much you're looking forward to working with them

Email template for your first 1:1 for a direct report

This email template from Lead Honestly shares a simple and polite invitation letter that provides essential information and invites additional questions. It uses an employee-focused approach and encourages the employee to come prepared with specific topics in mind. 

1:1 meeting calendar invitation template

After scheduling one-on-one meetings, it's a good idea to record the date and essential information in your business calendar app. This will allow employees to recognize their scheduled meetings at a glance. 

This easy template will provide all the necessary details:

  • Event name: This can be as simple as the names of the participants.

  • Date & time: Set up the event for the day and time agreed upon.

  • Location: This should include the physical location of a face-to-face meeting or a video conferencing link if the meeting will be virtual.

  • Description: Enter the URL of the document you'll be using for the meeting agenda and notes.

How often should managers do one-on-one meetings?

1:1 meetings with employees are most effective when held frequently. It's recommended that managers hold one-on-one meetings with direct reports once a week. Every meeting doesn't have to be exhaustive, and virtual meetings can replace physical meetings when necessary. 

If you can’t hold meetings every week, consider bi-weekly meetings that cover more ground. 

Using templates to get the most from your 1:1 meetings

One-on-one meetings give managers and employees an opportunity to strengthen company relationships and gain a unique perspective of other positions within the workplace. They can help align employee and company goals and advance employee careers. Yet, when you conduct meetings as a checkbox obligation, neither side is likely to recoup essential benefits.

By using templates to plan and conduct your 1:1 meetings, you can make the most of your time and provide value to your employees. The templates we've included in this article offer examples of the questions and discussions you can use in one-on-one meetings with employees. Always consider how you can personalize templates to create a better connection or make them more fitting for your unique business. 

Templates don't make your communications less authentic—they provide an actionable starting point for critical workplace communications. By using templates, you and your employees can get the most benefit from one-on-one meetings.

1:1 meeting templates

Come prepared for your next 1:1

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