One-on-One Meetings for Employee Engagement

Category: Employee Engagement.

It is a well established fact that employee engagement is crucial for the productivity, performance and the growth of the organization. Engaged employees feel happier at work and more satisfied with their workplace, and contribute to the organization in more significant ways. Numerous studies have established this fact.

However, employee engagement is a result of a multitude of factors, ranging from recognition and rewards, compensation, benefits and incentives all the way to work environment, work culture, good team relationships, etc. Creating an ideal environment in the organization for higher employee engagement involves studying all these contributing factors, identifying gaps and problems, and addressing them quickly.


Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.

Angela Ahrendts, SVP, Apple

This necessitates using various tools for measuring employee engagement such as annual employee engagement surveys, quarterly/monthly pulse surveys, etc. But surveys can be remotely conducted, and they lack the element of direct interaction. According to a survey by PR week, 87% of global employees say they want to work at a company where they “feel like part of a family”. This calls for a more personalized tool that helps build a closer relationship with the employee at individual level and understand the factors that keep them engaged. One-on-one meetings are tailor-made for this purpose.

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What is a one-on-one meeting?

One-on-one meetings are regularly conducted meetings, where managers sit with employees who directly report to them and interact with them regarding the progress at work, challenges, career growth, their skills, strengths and the factors that motivate them to be at their productive best. Unlike the frequent one-on-one check-ins conducted only to know about the progress of work, one-on-one meetings are more comprehensive and explore aspects of the employees as well such as professional development, team dynamics, etc.

The role of managers is extremely important in this because they are the ones who directly interact with the employees who report to them. One-on-one meetings create opportunities to build a good rapport with the employees and understand what drives employee engagement from the perspective of individuals. One-on-one meetings are conducted as frequently as once in two weeks. More in-depth meetings can be held once in a quarter.

Why are one-on-one meetings important for employee engagement?

One-on-one meetings have a big impact on the employee engagement because they:

  1. Convey to employees that the organization cares for them.
  2. Build employees’ trust in the organization.
  3. Improve communication where the employees become more open and vocal.
  4. Promote accountability through transparency in interactions about everything related to work and workplace
  5. Help managers guide employees to betterment by identifying challenges and finding solutions.

Best practices for one-on-one meetings

Best Practices for One on one meetings

In order to get the best out of one-on-one meetings and improve employee engagement it is vital for you as a manager to follow the best practices.

  • Build a personal rapport with the employee that makes them feel you are personally invested in them.
  • Personalize the questions according to the employees’ roles and responsibilities, and goals and experience, as you would be asking questions in person separately to every employee.
  • Set your expectations for the employee, and define what success looks like for them.
  • Create an agenda for the meeting.
  • Communicate with the employee in advance and give him/her the time to self-reflect and come up with discussion points.
  • Make a plan linking the expected outcomes to wider performance management.
  • Always start the meeting with appreciation for their successes and achievements.
  • Get to know the employees at a relatively more personal level, and learn about their interests and goals.
  • Let the employees talk and be an active listener.
  • Focus on the progress they have made in the job with regard to long-term goals.
  • Check on the progress they made with regard to career development, and identify opportunities for them.
  • Ask about professional relationships, friends at work, and team dynamics.
  • Ask about the challenges they have, discuss possible solutions and coach them to solve the issues and overcome the challenges.
  • Recognize achievements and be honest in the interactions.
  • Give constructive feedback and hold employees accountable.
  • Create a plan of action that needs to be implemented before the next meeting.
  • Agree upon the next meeting date, and avoid canceling or postponing one-on-one meetings.
  • Document the interactions and identify key points.
  • Follow up with communication regarding the points discussed and the plan of action agreed upon.

Setting an agenda for a one-to-one meeting

While the questions you can ask in a one-on-one meeting can be on work, workplace, career growth or anything that impacts the quality of work and work life of the employee, the agenda for the meeting should cover four areas/themes of discussion: Goals, Obstacles, Opportunities and Decisions. These are summarized in the acronym “GOOD”.

1. Goals

An impactful one-on-one meeting should discuss the goals previously set, what the employee has achieved from the previous period, and what he/she plans to achieve by the next meeting period. Any lack of clarity about the goals and intent can be identified and the progress of the employee can be tracked.

2. Obstacles

Asking questions about challenges or obstacles gives the manager an opportunity to discuss potential solutions and workarounds for the discussion. It helps managers coach the employees and enable employees to reach their full potential, leading to consistent success and higher levels of employee engagement.

3. Opportunities

It is an important responsibility of the manager to discuss with the employees and identify the right opportunities for career growth, skill development, and learning to ensure job satisfaction. Discussion about opportunities gives the employees confidence in the organization. It builds trust and creates a route map for long-term success.

4. Decisions

Employees should always come away from a one-on-one meeting with a plan of action to achieve estimated progress towards the goals and to set points of discussion for the next one-on-one meeting.

Questions to ask in a one-to-one meeting

Following are some examples of questions that you can ask in a one-on-one meeting.

  • Check-in questions
    1. Tell me about this week at work.
    2. Did you try the solutions we came up with for the problems identified during the last meeting?
    3. What are you working on this week?
    4. What are your interests?
  • Questions related to team dynamics and relationships
    1. Do you get along with your colleagues well?
    2. Does the team accept your ideas and contributions?
    3. Does your team recognize your achievements?
    4. Is there any conflict or disagreement with your team members that you want to discuss?
    5. Do you have a best friend at work?
  • Questions related to professional growth
    1. Do you need to upgrade or learn any skills to do your work better?
    2. Are you satisfied with where you are in the organization currently?
    3. Where do you see yourself in the organization in a year?
    4. What have you done this quarter to move ahead in your career?
  • Questions related to work
    1. What motivates you at work?
    2. Update me on your progress towards your goals.
    3. What are the challenges you faced this week/month?
    4. What solutions/workarounds did you find to overcome those challenges?
  • Questions related to the organization
    1. Are you happy with the recent changes to (specific policies/objectives/strategy)?
    2. Do you like the improvements made to your work environment?
    3. Are you happy with (a specific welfare measure/employee benefit)?
    4. Do you think you get the due recognition for your work in the organization?
  • Questions related to the action plan
    1. What kind of assistance do you need to overcome your current challenges before the next one-on-one meeting?
    2. What are you planning to achieve between now and the next one-on-one meeting?
    3. Do you have anything to ask/discuss with me?

To learn how the software can help you schedule meetings, take detailed notes, and stay on top of employee engagement, performance, and goals, book a free demo with our experts today!

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