A one-on-one meeting is one of the most important tools in a manager's toolbox to build strong relationships with the team members and set the foundation for success.
Having your first one-on-one means you probably just became a manager or a new team member joined your team or introduced the practice of 1-on-1s in your existing teams. In any case, congrats on this big step!
If you're interested in learning more about one-on-one meetings, check out this Introduction to one-on-ones for managers
During the first one-on-one meeting, you'd usually want to cover:
- Get to know each other better, set the foundation for effective teamwork.
- Discuss the plans for the upcoming 1-3 months.
- Align on expectations and career growth.
That's what we cover in this template. And here's some more info about each of the categories of questions we recommend in this template. Warm-up
It's always great to start the meeting with icebreakers and establish personal connections. Especially during the first one-on-one meeting, when you don't yet know the person very well.
- Tell me about yourself, what inspires you, who do you admire?
- What's your favorite place you've ever visited?
- What do you like about your role?
It's definitely not a good idea to move directly to metrics, goals, and KPIs. It would stress and scare off most people (well, maybe except Elon Musk).
Warm-up would help you get to know your new team members better and help you understand, what are their hobbies, aspirations in life, interests, etc. It's an effective way to build trust and show you really care about the person. Teamwork
- Let's talk about our 1:1 meetings, why we do them, and how often.
- Let's talk about our team and how we work together.
- Here's what you should know about my personality and how I prefer to work.
- What are your expectations of me as a manager?
During the first one-on-one meeting, make sure you explain what's the purpose of these meetings. Share details on how your team works and all the important info to know to start working well together.
It would also save you a lot of time if you share your management style beforehand and what the person should expect you to behave. Your style of communication/work might be well familiar for other team members, but not for the new ones.
And make sure to ask what the person expects from you as a manager. Listen carefully here and write down; you'd better incorporate this info in work later or discuss in more detail during the future meetings. Career and plans
- Let's talk about what I expect from you as a professional.
- Where do you see your career in 1 to 3 years? What do you want to have accomplished?
- What help do you need from me to achieve that?
- Is there anything you think is important to share with me?
Understand if your team/organization helps the person grow, what the person's preference, what skills the person needs to, or wants to improve. Employees are always thinking about their careers, make sure you also understand their plans and aspirations, so that you can help them achieve it inside your team. Talking points
Talking point is the section for you to build the agenda that is specific for your team and company. Discuss recent events and activities in your organization, the highlights, and lowlights, anything you feel is essential to share with your colleague.
- What are your impressions of our 1:1s? How could we make them more useful for you?
- Any feedback or thoughts you'd like to share?
Always ask what the other person thinks about your one-on-one meetings, how (s)he suggests to make them more productive. Never assume your sessions are going fine.