Tips for having better one-to-ones

Tips for better 1:1s: How can you better engage with your people?

  • Plan for your catch-ups, and do so before (not in them). Have a think about what you want to say in the meeting look back on what was said and actioned in the ones previous. Clarify what the goal of each 1-2-1 should be. Has your direct report followed upon what they said they would do. Come armed with some key questions, that go beyond the “what have you been up to”, contemplate getting past the simplistic defaults of manager – employee conversation.


  • Schedule your 1-2-1s in weekly (or monthly if more appropriate), with each individual. Doesn’t matter how senior or new they are. People need feedback and support, and to understand that they are important. Millennials are often pinpointed with needing more directive guidance. Saying, “my door is always open” is not always enough and can be intimidating for a new recruit. Actively engineering a meeting shows that to your employees that you care about them and that you want their feedback.


  • Don’t conform to a particular structure of 10/10/10, because 30 minutes might not be enough and because arbitrary structures like this may trivialise the actual conversation and limit important ideas or information that may come out in the 33rd minute. Have some idea of what you want to discuss: such as what has been successful at the moment, what hasn’t gone so well and what do they want to focus on next week. Catch-ups don’t always have to be about work, you can make them personal. Ask how your employees are feeling: Do they feel like the get enough recognition for good work? Do they feel like they can get constructive feedback?


  • Plan for the future. Each 1-2-1 is useless if there is no follow up or connecting point. What needs to be achieved in the next week, month, six months. Engage with your direct reports on what their career goals are what they want to achieve for the future. In and outside the company. Make sure you leave the meeting with a clear idea of what you would like to talk about in the next meeting. Similarly helping your employees set objectives can be a great way to guide them with their long-term development and goals.

Did you follow up on what you said you would do?  Holding yourself accountable for your actions, sets a precedent that your direct reports will follow.

Employees value communication from their manager not just about their roles and responsibilities, but also about what happens in their lives outside of work.

  • Face to face. Catch ups are best when they are completed in person. Email and Slack messages don’t quite cut it, people are able to hedge over their emotions and it can be difficult to get to the root of things. While face to face is a luxury afforded to people who work in offices and not at home. Managers can schedule a catch up in person monthly for remote workers and use google hangout in between.
  • Don’t miss your 1-2-1s, it sends out a message to your employees that more there are more important things than their time. Perhaps you block off the same half an hour for a person each week. Or you block of a half day for all of your team, to chat to them. Find what works best for you, but don’t miss them.

Enjoy your next one-to-one!

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Manager Tips

Manager tips

For employees

Everybody wants to have a great manager that supports and guides them along their career path. Here are some quick tips to get the most out of your manager:

  • Get to know your manager: You can’t get the most out of your manager unless you make the effort to understand the ways in which they fundamentally operate. The first step is to work out what they need from you, and how you should deliver this. Getting to know your manager will help you to deliver the information they need in a way that they enjoy receiving it.
  • Show initiative and drive: You should have a consistent one-to-one meeting set up with your manager. If you don’t, then you’ll need to take the initiative and request that one be set. You might need to outline why these meetings benefit yourself and your boss (such as improved productivity or quicker decision making on their behalf). Communication is a two-way street, and if you wait for your manager to organise things themselves you may not get the attention you need to develop and grow in your career.
  • Get organised: Make your catch-ups with your manager really count. Use Motivii’s One Click Review to plan for these meetings and stimulate discussion surrounding your career with your boss. Every time you think of something you want to bring up write it down, and compile a list to discuss at your next meeting to make sure you’re covering everything you want to.
  • Their opinions are not set in stone: When you talk with your manager, you don’t want to seem argumentative or defensive. Equally, you don’t want to be passive. If your manager gives you advice or suggestions that you think is flawed, say so. However, make sure you have facts or data that can demonstrate your reasons for challenging them.
  • Offer solutions, rather than problems: It is easy for us to pick out problems at work, but this is not our job; our job is to proactively seek out ways in which we can address these issues. You should never simply complain to your boss about something at work. Instead, try to figure out ways around it and take charge of conversations that need to be had in order to solve it. That way, when you do tell your boss about it you can let them know the actions you’ve already undertaken to solve the problem.

For managers

Managers should want the best for their direct reports, and should always look to be a supportive and useful leader. Here are some tips to help you become a better manager:

  • Figure out each individual’s motivations: Human beings do things because we want something out of it. At work, people might do great work because they want recognition, praise, or simply more money. They might work really hard to impress you. Figuring out the motivations of each employee is your first responsibility, and then reward them if they do well in what they are asked.
  • Work on your communication: Communication skills are crucially important if you are a manager. Each of your direct reports depend on your communication skills heavily. You have to be clear about what you want in order to motivate your team. Feedback regularly in constructive ways, and encourage feedback to flow two-ways. If there are successes or updates within your organisation, share these with your employees and make sure everyone is kept on the same page.
  • Take a time-out when necessary: You will be a less helpful and effective manager if you are over-worked and over-stressed. You will be less tolerant to employees and may snap more, creating tension in the office. You’ll have less time to spend with individual employees and this will really come across to them. They might begin to feel neglected. So take a break and give yourself time to relax and recharge your batteries. When you return you’ll be more productive, and will be able to help and support your employees much more effectively.
  • Be open to suggestions and alternative ways of thinking: A great manager is agile, adaptable and open to seeing things from others perspectives. New opportunities are always to be had and if we have great employees, and we encourage their thoughts, we open ourselves up to great business possibilities. Being static prevents progress. Don’t be scared to move away from the overused excuse, “Well this is how we’ve always done things here.” Just because things have been done in a certain way for a long time does not mean that way is the best way.
  • Make sure your employees know where their focus should lie: Managers should set well thought out, defined and measurable objectives for each individual employee. These objectives can be used as a long term guide for employees and managers. For the short term, really encourage employees to use Motivii’s Top3 focus section to inform you about where their focus lies week on week, because as a manager you should always be aware of what your direct reports are doing.