The Modern Employee One-on-One Template

Today, the employee one-on-one meeting is one of the most useful tools in a manager's arsenal. The 1:1 meeting keeps managers and employees on the same page, boosts employee engagement, helps fix issues before they become big problems, improves goal setting, and helps to ensure employees are getting the support they need.Structuring your employee 1 on 1 meeting effectively requires the use of a dedicated employee one-on-one meeting template.

Decades ago, employees put their heads down and got the work done. Many positions featured repetitive tasks and employees remained in their roles for many years. Annual reviews were the norm, but that doesn’t mean they were very useful. Most employees would rather skip the meeting and get back to work.

And so the myth of employees not wanting feedback was born, and it persists to this day, even though it is no longer true.

A whopping 65% of those asked in one survey reported wanting more feedback at work. An even more eye-watering statistic shows that 98% of employees disengage from their work if they receive very little or no feedback at all.

That’s at least partly because the nature of work has changed. Not only are positions more involved, but many employees work from home, at least some of the time. Feedback is essential for those employees to feel like they’re on the right track.

It’s clear that employees want to know how they’re doing, but what does that look like?

With employees that are three times more likely to be engaged, one-on-ones are the solution.

Don’t worry! Crafting one-on-one meetings from scratch isn’t necessary. We can help you optimize the time you spend together with an employee one-on-one template along with tips on how to make it work for you.

PerformYard helps you track 1:1s and keep employees informed.Learn More

Structuring an Employee One-on-One Meeting

s the name implies, one-on-ones are between a manager and an employee. With just two people in attendance, it’s easier to build trust, which is important when it comes to supporting an engaged workforce.

Other aspects of the meetings are more flexible. A manager can take a casual approach by meeting up every once in a while for a coffee in the break room. Alternatively, managers can have a more formal schedule where you get together in your office. A manager might use the same weekly employee one-on-one meeting template doc each time. A manager could also skip the form and brainstorm a list of topics to talk about ahead of the meeting instead.

Want to know more? Keep reading for a:

  • 1:1 Template
  • 1:1 Scheduling guide
  • 1:1 Follow-up guide

1:1 Template

If you're searching for a one-on-one meeting template for a manager, look no further.

Our template includes a list of questions you can ask during both formal and informal meetings. It also includes a guide to follow-up notes and action items so you can start preparing for the next one-on-one meeting.

This agenda template is customized to meet your needs. Use the questions that work and scrap the questions that don’t. Allow the information in the template to inspire you to add details to your meetings that you and your employees find useful.

Download your FREE Employee One-on-One Meeting Template

Find out how PerformYard can streamline your entire performance management process.Learn More

1:1 Scheduling guide

Wrapping your head around one-on-ones can be difficult. How often is a manager supposed to have one-on-one meetings? And how long are they supposed to last?

The quick answer is that it’s up to you! Meetings should occur as often as needed, and for as long as needed. As long as they provide value to your employees, there is no one right answer.

If you have a remote team, it’s even more important to schedule one-on-one meetings, as Groove found out.

This company offers help desk software with a robust blog and catalog of resources. With a remote team, it wasn’t easy to notice that some employees were unhappy with their job. To combat this, Groove scheduled bi-monthly one-on-one meetings that have boosted company culture, built trust, and increased employee happiness. Groove has increased employee retention in the process.

The question is no longer about whether you should have one-on-one meetings, but how you should schedule them.

Weekly one-on-ones are among the most popular choice for most teams. Some have bi-weekly meetings, which would be the most helpful for teams that work on short-term projects. Those working on long-term projects may want to consider a monthly meeting. Additional, but less popular, options include bi-monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings.

Getting together in person is ideal, but don’t let it dictate how often you can have meetings. Weekly meetings are doable with remote workforces and those with a hybrid schedule when you check in on Zoom, or even over the phone.

Meetings that are 30 minutes long are the most popular. Some meetings extend to 45 minutes or even an hour. For the most part, 15-minute meetings are too short, while meetings over an hour are too long.

Keep in mind that the whole point of one-on-one meetings is to build trust and provide value to employees—so ask them what they think! How often would they like to meet, and for how long? Then, be willing to make adjustments that provide them with the schedule that they find valuable.

1:1 Follow-up guide

Check-ins aren't supposed to be cumbersome or stressful. They aren't supposed to require a lot of preparation from employees either. That’s important to remember when it comes to following up.

Avoid making meetings all about status updates. It's the easiest way to disengage employees and erode trust, which makes one-on-ones useless.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take notes or come up with a list of objectives ahead of the next meeting. They just can’t be the entire purpose of the meeting, and they shouldn’t take a lot of time.

For example, a team member might have an idea that they research and bring their findings to the next meeting. A manager might look into professional development options that are available to the team member.

One-on-ones should to be just as much about professional growth and development as they are about performance. If you don’t have any notes to upload or a list of objectives for employees to obtain, that’s okay! They may not be necessary.

If you do want to upload notes and create objectives, consider a more formal process that includes a one-to-one meeting template pdf. If you use a template, you might upload that information to a platform like PerformYard so your employee can see how they are doing over time.

Whether you upload notes or not, make sure you have extra time during your meeting to talk about topics that don’t relate to what’s been planned. A good rule of thumb is to talk about performance-related topics 25% of the time. That way you still have plenty of time to discuss follow-up questions from the last meetings. You can also hit on topics like growth, development and motivation.

Dos and Don’ts for 1:1 Meetings

These do’s and don’ts will help you make the most of the time you spend with your employee.

Do come up with a schedule that works for you

You don’t have to do one-on-one meetings the same way everyone else does. They can be as long or as short as you need, and you can meet as often or as infrequently as you want. Work together with your employees to come up with a schedule that works for everyone.

Don’t schedule 1:1 meetings only when you have something to talk about

One-on-one meetings should build trust—not necessarily solve problems. You can talk about productivity, professional development, or a recent vacation. The point is that one-on-one meetings should happen consistently, even if you don’t have something important to discuss.

Do make meetings as effortless as possible for employees

One-on-one meetings aren’t supposed to be another thing a direct report has to add to their to-do lists. As you build a relationship with your employees, they should look forward to getting together. The meetings will give them a chance to talk to you about their experiences and their concerns.

If employees have to prepare ahead of the meeting, make sure it only takes them a few minutes. They should be able to just show up to the meeting and have a successful experience without too much forethought.

Don’t leave planning the meeting until the last minute

Employees shouldn’t be required to do too much planning, but that doesn’t mean managers shouldn’t! Plan meetings and give employees enough time to give you their input. When you decide what to talk about together, meetings will go more smoothly.

Do use collaboration tools to make meetings easier

Not only do employees appreciate being part of the planning process, but they also appreciate being in the loop. Collaboration tools help you plan meetings and review notes quickly. You won’t need to send multiple emails or hunt an employee down in the breakroom.

Learn how PerformYard can help you build 1:1s into your performance management process.Learn More

Don’t make meetings all about performance

Employees will shut down and begin to dread one-on-one meetings if they are all about performance. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about performance at all! It just means that you need to make sure there’s the time during your meeting to talk about things besides performance too.

Do use an employee one-on-one template

A 1:1 template can make planning meetings easier. The template can make it fast and easy for employees to prepare for the meeting, and it ensures everyone knows what to expect.

Don’t be afraid to modify a template to meet your needs

Don’t feel like you have to use the template as-is. Your team has unique needs, which means taking the time to customize the template. Ask your team for input on what to include and what not to include so everyone finds it useful.

1:1 Meeting Agenda Outline

Tips, do’s, and don’ts can help you get started, but what does it look like to plan and conduct a one-on-one meeting?

Here are a few outlines you can use to help you plan your meeting agenda:

  • 1:1 Meeting agenda for a new employee
  • 1:1 Meeting agenda outline for weekly meetings
  • 1:1 Meeting agenda outline for monthly meetings

1:1 Meeting agenda for a new employee

Your very first one-on-one meeting should be relatively informal. There’s no need to overwhelm your new employee with a template or talk about topics that are a little too heavy.

Instead, ask questions like:

  • What has challenged you since you started working here?
  • What skills would you like to develop as you work here?
  • How can I best support you at work?
  • What are you working on this week?
  • Is there anything you would like to talk about the next time we meet?

Leave time during the meeting so the two of you can ask questions that come up spontaneously. Having a little extra time also gives you and your employee time to think about your responses before you share them.

1:1 Meeting agenda outline for weekly meetings

When scheduling weekly one-on-one meetings, it’s important to set up the meeting document or template first. It forces you to think through the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as its theme or objective. Then, ensure each employee has access to this document before the meeting.

The agenda during the meeting can be broken down into steps that include:

  1. The check-in: These relatively informal questions help employees settle in. Questions might include the food at a recent lunch or what they did over the weekend.
  2. The follow-up: If there was anything from the last meeting that needs to be touched on, do it immediately after checking in. Otherwise, this step can be skipped.
  3. The main agenda: Each meeting should have a goal that is determined ahead of time. The agenda could be related to goal setting, professional growth, performance, or anything else. Only one or two questions on this theme are needed.
  4. Achievements: Take time to talk about employee wins! Do a little research ahead of time and mention each employee's strengths. They'll be glad you noticed!
  5. Goals and expectations : End the meeting with any goals or action items you have ahead of the next meeting.

When the meeting is over, make notes available to the team member, if necessary. With another meeting only a week away, the sooner you set up the next template and give employees access, the better.

1:1 Meeting agenda outline for monthly meetings

The meeting agenda for monthly meetings should follow the same cadence as weekly meetings:

  1. The check-in
  2. The follow-up
  3. The main agenda
  4. Achievements
  5. Goals and expectations

The difference will be in how much time you spend on some topics.

Weekly meetings allow you to cover topics that you may have missed or dig more deeply into a topic just days later. With monthly meetings, you have to wait weeks to talk about it.

Because of this, monthly meetings require more planning. You also have to think more carefully about the topics you cover. For example, you might forgo discussing achievements so that you have more time to talk about the main agenda.

Because of this, monthly meetings require more planning. You also have to think more carefully about the topics you cover. For example, you might forgo discussing achievements so that you have more time to talk about the main agenda and larger action items.


How do you structure an employee one-on-one?

How you structure an employee one-on-one is up to you! There’s no one way to do it, but a rule of thumb is to start with ice-breaker check-in questions. Then, discuss any topics that require a follow-up before diving into the main agenda for the current meeting. The remaining time can be used to celebrate wins and create goals before the next meeting.

Use a form that the direct report has access to before, during, and after the meeting. This helps both parties organize their thoughts and ensure the meeting stays on topic.

What should you say in an employee one-on-one meeting?

One-on-one meetings can be informal and comfortable, giving employees and managers a chance to connect on a more personal level. You can provide feedback, but managers should also strive to create a dialog where they can receive feedback as well. One-on-one meetings should feel like a conversation—not a formal meeting.

What should you discuss in a 1:1 with a new employee?

The first check-in meeting with a new direct report should be informal. Ask them questions about how they’re settling in and how management can better support them as they get used to their new role. Leave plenty of time for the new employee to ask questions. The extra time also enables you to ask spontaneous questions too.

Can I use the 1 on 1 meeting to discuss goals?

The employee 1:1 meeting can be a valuable tool for a manager and an employee to discuss career goals, development goals, personal goals, and other goals they are working toward. However, the 1:1 is not meant to be a goal-setting meeting, per se. Instead, it can be used to gauge the progress an employee has made toward their goals. Goal-setting itself should be done in a separate meeting. 

What is a 1:1 meeting format?

The format of a 1:1 meeting is usually made up of a list of topics with corresponding questions. You determine which topics are most important to address ahead of the meeting, then create questions that best address those topics. The format can include the use of a form or template, but it doesn’t have to.

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