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The Ultimate One on One meeting checklist

12 min read

Meet Raj. 

Like most managers, his job is to manage a lot of things at the same time. 

Raj is proud to be a manager, but his team thinks he’s not a good manager. They appreciate the fact that he’s trying, but agree that Raj often shies away from One-on-One meetings. Raj is sad and has no idea what to do.  

Like Raj, a lot of managers run away from 1 on 1 conversation.  

Yes, meetings do happen. However, most don’t have a set agenda and go on for a long time. They are boring, distracting, irregular, and that’s why no one likes them. 

Luckily, we will show you One on One meeting checklist that’ll help Raj or any manager out there to make the most out of every one on one. 

It all starts with defining what’s important. 

Before the Meeting 

Priority: If everything matters, then nothing matters 

Most managers and employees consider every task to be a priority. Multiple tasks can be important, but they can’t all be equally important. When people say they have a lot of priorities, that means they’re finding it difficult to prioritize tasks.

It’s the same with One on One’s. You can’t talk about everything. You need to identify what matters.

Before going into a meeting, think about:

  • Is this still important, or has the situation changed? 
  • Do I need to be a part of this activity? 
  • Is this the agenda that’s important right now, or does it need to change?

Having things clear will help you plan your conversation in the best way possible. 

One on One: Open new possibilities 

One on One help managers understand the progress of individuals in their respective work life. A few minutes of conversations can change the dynamic of the entire team. 

Unlike the formal review process, where it’s hard for an employee to open up, One on Ones help in breaking the ice. With support, employees will share their concerns, goals, and ambitions with their managers. 

There is no specific duration for having a 1v1 meeting. What matters is having a set cadence for the team. 

Here are a few things that you can talk about: 

  1. Daily/Weekly/Monthly priorities 
  2. Checking-in on goals (Personal, team, and company goals) 
  3. Identifying and solving problems 
  4. Celebrating employee successes 
  5. Career growth and aspirations 
  6. Learning path 
  7. Help your team prioritize tasks from allocated work. 

And much more… 

Discussion: Talk less and accomplish more 

Before the meeting, both managers and employees should make a list of talking points. It will help in making the conversations direct, friendly, and short.  

Care: The foundation for growth 

One on One meetings are meant for growth. Caring for your team is a continuous process, and if you don’t check-in regularly, your employees will feel that you don’t care. To show that you care, participate in both wins and losses.  

When things go well, have conversations and appreciate your employees. If something goes wrong, initiate a conversation so that you can plan and set things right.  

Agenda: You get what you set 

One on One meetings can be ineffective and awkward without any set agendas. You don’t need to remember everything in your head. An automated tool can help you set agendas and talking points out of the box, so you remain on track. 

While setting up agendas, it’s vital to give them a structure. 

  • Discuss regularly on a set cadence 
  • Revisit on [date] 
  • Roadblocks and Solutions 
  • Goals 
  • Action Plan 

Because things will change after every 1 on 1 discussion, it’s important to update the objectives as things happen. Instead of you having to keep a track of objectives manually, why not allow a tool like Keka to do this for you. 

Understand: Because you are the manager 

Your employees won’t say everything directly, especially when times are tough. Be proactive and see which employee could benefit from a conversation at a certain point in time. Then, go ahead and initiate the conversation.  

The Meeting 

Check-in and Listen 

To show that you know your employees, you need to know that. It could be what they like, what they dislike, etc. Start with an ice-breaker on their hobbies, such as cycling, cooking, other things. Make them comfortable and show that as a manager, you’re here to listen. For all of this to work, you need to open up first by being honest with your team. Genuineness is the key. 


Check on the status of the action items discussed in the last meeting. If they still aren’t done, the manager and the employee need to focus on solving them first and then move forward.  

Check Goal Progress 

Employees have multiple sets of goals. Personal goals, team goals, and also organizational goals. 1-on-1s are a great time to discuss the progress of all the goals. It allows everyone to reimagine and re-align things in case something didn’t work. 

Two-way conversation 

To make it work, both sides (Managers and employees) have to actively participate. As a manager, you may be friendly and considerate, but if you can’t get your employees to talk, these meetings will always result in nothing. You need to speak less and listen more.  

Here are some of the questions managers can ask to build up a conversation: 

  • How can I provide more clarity in terms of goals and vision? 
  • Is there something we should do more often as a team? 
  • Is there something we should stop doing as a team? 
  • How do you see your growth path in this organization? 
  • What do you enjoy the most when it comes to working at this company? 
  • Is there any specific project that you’d like to work on right now? 
  • What is the biggest challenge you’re facing at work? 
  • How can I improve as a manager to help the team? 
  • What new skills do you want to learn? 

Stay Personal 

Don’t make it look like a parentteacher meeting. No matter what, maintain a friendly and personal tone of communication during the entire meeting. It will give your employees a sense of belonging and how much they matter to the organization. 

Maintain Accountability 

As a manager, your job is to help employees find the right direction, whereas the employees need to walk on the path themselves. Set clear expectations in terms of what’s required and continuously follow up. Create a culture of accountability where employees are doing the right thing even when no one is watching 


When it comes to giving constructive feedback, don’t wait until the next meeting. Instant feedback is the key to growth. For feedback examples, check out the sample phrases list 

On the other hand, be open to receiving feedback from your team. You can be more specific and even ask for feedback on how you can improve as a manager. 

Action Plan 

We can talk all we want, but things do not change unless we take action. Setting a clear path and timeline for achieving it will help everyone stay focused on priority goals.  

  • Create a list of tasks 
  • Set timelines or due dates 
  • Follow-up 

Take Notes 

As a manager, it’s always helpful to take notes on what was discussed, what needs to be discussed, etc.  

Take notes on your own judgment of employee growth in the organization. It always comes in handy during the latter part of the review cycle as you’ll have a fair idea of the development of a certain employee. 

Don’t just speak, but also provide coaching notes to your employees. It is crucial as when a particular employee faces a similar challenge in the future, he/she can refer to the notes, and work on the solution. 

Continue following-up 

We are repeating this one because it is an important aspect of making One on One meetings successful. 1-on-1 conversations work only when you continuously follow up. It’s impossible to collaborate from the get-go without a disciplined process. A cadence will help you and the team to stay on the same page. 


One on ones aren’t regular meetings. They foster better employee feedback and continuous coaching to drive your employees forward towards a common purpose.  

To do anything well takes effort. Why do all the work when a tool can do it for you? Yes, rather than relying on a pen or your brain for all the manual tasks, why not engage your employees with Keka’s One on One meeting tool? 

You get: 

  • Talking points out of the box. 
  • Power to bring your OKRs and goals for a discussion. 
  • Set cadence according to your requirements. 
  • Timely reminders to ensure One on One meetings are happening. 

To know more about a Performance Management System that actually works, sign up for a free trial here. 

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    Meet the author

    Keka Editorial Team

    A bunch of inspired, creative and ambitious youngsters- that’s Keka’s editorial team for you. We have a thirst to learn new subjects and curate diverse pieces for our readers. Our deep understanding and knowledge of Human Resources has enabled us to answer almost every question pertaining to this department. If not seen finding ways to simplify the HR world, they can be found striking conversations with anyone and everyone , petting dogs, obsessing over gadgets, or baking cakes.


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