5 One-On-One Meeting Templates for Effective Managers

One-on-one templates cover

One-on-one meeting templates create a solid foundation for more effective check-ins with your team members. As a manager, one-on-ones are among your most powerful tools for effectively communicating with your team. They let you align on big-picture goals, keep an eye on employee engagement and connect with your team.

We’ve put together 5 one-on-one meeting templates built around common points in employee-manager relationships. Use these as a roadmap toward better working relationships with your team.

1. A Standard One-on-One Meeting Template

What differentiates a good one-on-one from a regular status update is the ability to go deep into the issues. So it’s more important to ask a few targeted questions than to breeze through a lengthy checklist. The questions here ensure that both manager and employee walk away from the meeting knowing what they’re supposed to do and how they plan to do it.

How are you feeling this week?
This might strike you as a throwaway, small talk question, but as we’ve discussed before, this question is a powerful tool that can help you prevent disengaged employees. But it only works if you take it seriously and your employee trusts you enough to give you an honest answer.

What are you proud of accomplishing since we last talked?
Always make space for celebration, especially when your team might be busy and overwhelmed. One-on-one meetings are a great time to encourage your team members to share their recent wins and take pride in their accomplishments.

What are your priorities for the next week?
Every one-on-one agenda should include weekly priorities, but don’t let yourself slip into status update territory. You can always use email or other means to check on projects — your weekly one-on-ones should focus more on big-picture plans. Let your team member know that you aren’t interested in keeping tabs on their to-do list and instead use this question to make sure you’re both in alignment on where they should be spending their time, and identifying any roadblocks you can help them remove.

What progress are you making on your goals for the next month/six months?
As of 2021, only 53% of employees feel that their boss supports their professional goals. Keep in mind that career development (or lack thereof) is the number one reason for voluntary turnover. If you want to hold onto your employees, this question is crucial.

In addition to setting short-term priorities and addressing action items, you should also set long-term goals. For instance, gaining proficiency with a piece of software might take a full quarter of work, so it’s a “goal,” not a priority. Eventually, you’ll work your way up to talking about the long-term skills the employee hopes to learn and what bigger career aspirations they have.

Is there anything you need from me this week to meet your goals?
Every one-on-one should include some form of this question. If a team member always responds with “nothing,” ask some follow up questions to dig deeper. For example: Do you prefer to work autonomously, or do you like receiving reminders/scheduling check-ins?

Would you like to boost productivity, increase trust and have a healthier, happier team?

Download your FREE 1:1 guide now!

2. One-on-One Meeting Template for Onboarding New Hires

More than one-third of turnover happens during the first year of employment. When you’re onboarding new hires, your one-on-ones can make or break your new team member’s experience. Make sure you get it right by checking in and helping your team member take a breather from the stress of onboarding.

Even if a typical one-on-one in your organization is a breezy 15 minutes, make your first meeting longer. Use that time to learn who this person is, what they need in order to thrive, and what types of expectations they can reasonably take on.
Remember, new hires might still be shy and eager to prove themselves, so make sure to prompt them with follow-up questions.

What are your greatest strengths?
Not everyone loves to brag about themselves, so be ready to lead your team members with questions such as:

  • Are you a gifted communicator?
  • Are you bringing a host of specialized skills to the team?
  • Are you a great peer coach or mentor?

Asking about strengths not only gives new hires a chance to build their confidence, but it also helps you as a manager set them up for success in the future.

How do you like to receive feedback, both positive and negative?
Whether they admit it or not, your employees are starving for feedback. But not everyone likes to receive feedback in the same way. Get ahead of awkward conversations by asking new hires how they prefer to receive both positive and negative feedback. For example, some people might love being praised in public while others would cringe at the mere thought. And while some team members might prefer to receive negative feedback in writing, others might want to hear it face-to-face.

What do you need to be productive?
When onboarding new hires, it’s important to figure out what they need to get their work done. While one person might crave team brainstorm sessions, another might thrive with long stretches of solo work time. Asking this question right away will help you as a manager give your team member what they need to do their best work.

Pssst…Looking for even more one-on-one meeting questions to ask your new hires? Check out our New Hire Conversation Guide.

3. 60-90 Day One-on-One Meeting Template

At this stage, an employee should be mostly done with the onboarding process. Use this template to find out what remaining holes the team member has in their knowledge, and be able to make a fair determination as to whether they’re a good fit. This is also a great opportunity to seek feedback on the perceived shortcomings of the organization.

Which projects have been the best fit for your strengths?
The difference between a happy, productive employee and an unhappy, disengaged one is often a matter of the work leadership gives them. During the hiring and onboarding process, it’s easy for wires to get crossed and employees to be assigned work that doesn’t engage them. They might never bring it up themselves, so make sure to ask early on.

What about our onboarding process could we improve?
Only 48% of companies believe their onboarding is successful. You can’t improve what you don’t evaluate, so make sure this question is on your 60-90 day one-on-one meeting agenda. Ask your team members what more the company can do to improve onboarding in the future.

Now that you’ve seen our work, is there anything about it that doesn’t make sense or that strikes you as inefficient?
Just as you can become blind to clutter in your house, it’s easy to stop noticing ways of doing business that don’t make sense. Asking a new hire about this will provide some valuable perspective on these inefficiencies and make them feel that their opinion is valuable.

What parts of your work do you still feel unsure about?
Learning shouldn’t end when the onboarding period does. Ask your team member what additional guidance or resources you can provide to help them feel more confident about working at your company.

4. New Manager One-on-One Meeting Template

Whether you’re new to management or just new to the team member, your first one-on-one with a direct report is crucial.Don’t try to overcompensate by being too confident or by imposing a rigid philosophy right out of the gate. Instead, take some time in this first one-on-one meeting to acknowledge that you’re new to this role and will inevitably make some new-leader missteps but that the lines of communication are open.

What have managers done in the past that has helped you be successful?
Remember, this meeting isn’t about you—it’s about your team member. Focus on learning about your employee’s working style, what type of management they respond to, and how you can help them succeed at work.

What do you hope to get out of these meetings?
This is your best opportunity to make sure you and your team member are on the same page when it comes to one-on-ones. . While it’s important to lay out your goals for one-on-ones and let the team member know what they can expect going forward the focus should be on what they hope to get out of your time together.

How are you doing in meeting your career goals?
The answer to this question will reveal a lot. If the team member is in the middle of blazing a white-hot path to success, you can help make the way easier. If they’re happy where they are, you can help them stay on track and make incremental improvements. And if they feel stuck in a rut, you can flag them for extra attention. No matter where they are in their professional development journey, it’s your job to make sure getting a new manager doesn’t throw them off track.

5. Underperforming Employee One-on-One Meeting Template

When a team member is off track, one-on-ones are your best chance to have a frank conversation that gets to the heart of the matter. It’s important to control any frustration and assume positive intent. Your employee’s poor performance is almost never a conscious choice, and it’s likely causing them anxiety too. They might not know exactly what the roadblocks are, so make it clear that this is not a performance review but rather an opportunity to brainstorm solutions and set next steps together.

How would you rate your own performance right now?
The answer to this will guide much of the rest of the meeting. If they readily acknowledge that they’re underperforming, you can jump right into figuring out the problem. If they believe they’re doing fine, then there’s a deeper issue about mismatched expectations. You need to follow up by dissecting where things got off course.

Do you feel overwhelmed at work?
Employee burnout is no joke. Even the most talented team members can start to slip if they’re overwhelmed or stressed out. Approach your team member with empathy. If they’re feeling run down, ask them how you can help. For example, “If I could take one thing off your plate right now, what would it be?” or “Is there anything on your plate that we could re-prioritize or get off your to-do list?”

Do you feel bored or unchallenged?
Only 49% of learners said their managers are challenging them to learn a new skill. If your employee doesn’t feel challenged or passionate about what they’re doing, their work quality will certainly suffer.

Ask your team member what you can do to help them find a passion for their work. This question will shake them out of passivity and encourage them to take an active role in turning their performance around instead of waiting for external circumstances to change.

You can also take this opportunity to reevaluate whether or not the employee is in the right role. Sometimes poor performance is caused by trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

How can I do a better job of supporting you and holding you accountable throughout the week?
Bring it back to you as a manager. This is not to say that you are to blame for your team member’s poor performance. Phrasing the question like this shows your team member that you want to work together to find a solution.

Ask them what types of motivation they respond to, if they need extra help on a project, or if they’d like to have more frequent check-ins with you or other team members.

One-on-One Meeting Templates are Just the Start

Each of these templates is meant to work as a starting point. You can—and should—adapt them to suit your team and your organization. For managers who want to make the most of one-on-ones, get started with Uptick to build on the foundation these templates provide.

Download your FREE Ultimate Guide to 1:1s

Learn how to have productive and meaningful conversations and boost productivity, increase trust and have a healthier, happier team! 

Subscribe below to get future posts from Michael