We’ve Just Updated Our 121 Form (Including 1 2 1 Meeting Agenda) – Get Your Latest Copy With a Free One on Ones Mini-Course Here.

Managing People Isn’t Easy

It's funny how many people think being a boss is easy. Until they get promoted. Then they realize it's a different ball game. Different skills, different rules, a lot more players on the pitch and your training doesn't mean anything anymore. 

Management is easy when your employees are highly skilled, motivated and take ownership for their work. But the reality is employee disengagement is an unspoken problem of astonishing proportions. (reference here)

It doesn’t matter what sector you work in – Sales, Customer Service, Finance or IT. Managing people isn’t easy. Underperformance, bad quality work and missed deadlines are three basic performance issues. But add on top of that hiring, training, personality conflicts and the endless stream of employee problems. It’s no wonder that being a boss isn't as glamorous as it sounds.

Taking back control of your work day calls for some powerful management medicine. The single easiest management cure-all is regular one on one meetings with staff. Do one on ones right and you can take care of almost all your management responsibilities in one go. But to steal a Steve Jobs quote, there's one more thing. Because quality one on one meetings don't just fix problems. Quality one on one meetings are the best prevention for the biggest management problems:


Management Problem #1: Poor Employee Performance

There are two types of managers: those that have had a poor performer on their team and those that are lying about it. But all poor performers started off as an exciting new hire. So where does it go wrong?

People are complex so it isn't surprising that many factors affect employee performance. Lack of skills, attitude, diligence, motivation and accountability. These are just a few things on the manager's daily grind. And if these aren’t addressed then they just continue to escalate. Until you’re left with an employee who's performance stresses you out. And the only things preventing you from firing them is the pain of:

  • Going through the performance dismissal process, paperwork and distress. And then,
  • Recruiting and training a replacement.  

The point is – these are all issues that effective one on one meetings fix.  

one-on-ones with employees make managing easy jpeg

Solution: effective one on one meetings with staff Make Managing Easy

Great bosses know that managing staff is about certain routine behaviors that they just don’t teach you in business school. Such as active listening, inspiring performance communications, task delegation, employee development, managing personality conflicts, etc. etc. Get these right and you can address all of your employee performance issues.

What I love about one-on-ones is that it’s like a shortcut where you get to do the bulk of your managing in one go. Effective one on one meetings are the heartbeat of management. Because weekly one on ones with your directs creates a forum for doing all these things. This frees up more of your time to focus on other priorities. Plus, doing effective one on one meetings builds loyalty with your staff. It’s tough to quantify the benefits. But anything that results in better people performance is a worthwhile investment.

Management Problem #2: Disengaged Employees

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment employees have to the organization and its goals. This emotional commitment means engaged employees care about their work and their company. They don’t just work for a paycheck, or the next promotion. They work towards the achievement of the organization’s goals. Because there is a close alignment of their goals and company goals. As you can imagine engaged employees are the difference between manager success and manager pain.

But the sad reality is that less than a third of the world’s workforce are engaged in their jobs. According to a recent Gallup Employee Engagement Study, 50% of the world’s workforce are “Not Engaged”. And close on 20% are “Actively Disengaged.”

You don't have to have a Harvard MBA to know that this makes a huge impact on bottom-line results. Engaging employees in their jobs is the path to better work and lower staff turnover. As a boss your role is pivotal to employee engagement. If you leave employee engagement up to HR then you lose the ability to make a difference. Engagement is about helping employees find value and meaning in their work. Do this right and you have employees who go the extra mile and get job satisfaction in return.

As managers our attention is quickly drawn to the things our employees do wrong. But we tend to forget that people want to do meaningful work. They want their contribution to be acknowledged and they want their work to be important to others.

one-on-ones with employees increase employee engagement jpeg

Solution: effective one on one meetings with staff Increase Employee Engagement

When you meet with your directs each week for one on one meetings you get the opportunity to connect with them and build a relationship with them. But you also get the chance to give them purpose and direction and make them feel involved and valued. This is the path to employee engagement. Employee engagement is not a happy accident - as a boss you have the power to create it.

Management Problem #3: Dealing With Endless Employee Problems

Do you sometimes feel as though your office is like Grand Central Station? Employees in and out all day demanding your time and attention to help them solve problems or ask you questions? Are these ad-hoc interruptions disturbing your focus and adding to your workload? Leaving you with a longer to-do list at the end of the day than when you started? Well you’re not alone. Being accessible and helpful while balancing your own workload is one of the biggest challenges facing managers who care. The problem arises when your employees don’t have a designated time to communicate with you. Because then they’re just going to “pop in” every time they need your input on problems or issues.

one-on-ones with employees will save you time and improve communications jpeg

Solution: effective one on one meetings with staff Will Save You Time and Improve Communication

You can turn this around by allocating set time for your employees to talk to you during weekly one on one meetings. One on ones create a virtual “communication bucket” for all matters that require discussion or attention. Instead of coming to you each time they have a question, problem or issue that they need to discuss, your direct reports will start saving all their ‘bits’ of information, questions, problems and communication for their weekly meetings with you. (Tip: You can use Active Listening skills to start teaching your directs to solve their own problems)

The best part is that having weekly one on one meetings will save you time.  The more that you compartmentalise your management responsibilities, the more time you’ll have for your other duties. Ever feel that employees ruin control of your calendar? Then one on one meetings are the best method to take back control of your work day.

Tip: Get the most from your one on ones by finding out the best Questions to Ask During One on One Meetings With Employees.

Management Problem #4: Building Relationships With a Diverse Team

You can choose your friends but in business you have to be effective with all types of people even if you do not naturally match their type. But it’s not easy figuring out what works for each person. Different people have different communication styles, motivators and preferences. And behavior differences can manifest into flawed communications, dysfunctional relationships and conflict. All these things make being a boss that much more difficult.

A behavioral assessment will show you your natural leadership style. And a good one will even show you how to adjust your leadership style to get better management results. But the best way to build functional relationships with your directs is with regular time together. You can't shortcut it, you can't do it all in one go. Building solid relationships needs repeated one-on-ones. It's a bit like brushing your teeth. You can't do several months worth of teeth brushing in one go. Luckily, you only need a little bit every week. And it's not wasted time. As you get to know them and what’s important to them you’ll also get to know what motivates and inspires them. And you'll discover what employees are good at and what they struggle with. Great bosses get great results by working around employees strengths and weaknesses.

Tip: a one-on-one form makes it easy for you to have effective one on one meetings.

One-on-ones with employees build functional relationships jpeg

Solution: effective one on one meetings with staff Build Functional Relationships

One on one meetings enable you to make a real connection with each person on your team.  You’ll become a problem solver, a coach, an advisor, an influencer, and even an enabler.  This is one meeting where you can make a real difference to the individuals in your team.

Management Problem #5: Retaining Staff

High staff turnover is a culmination of all of the above issues. When your staff feel:

  • Uninvolved and disengaged,
  • Undervalued,
  • That they are not growing in their jobs and
  • That they don't have good communication channels

... then they’ll soon be in a job search looking for a better opportunity.

One-on-one meetings with employees increase employee retention jpeg

Solution: effective one on one meetings with staff Increase Employee Retention

One on one meetings create dedicated time focused on your direct reports. Doing them regularly ensures that performance communication channels are open. Staff feel valued and involved and that they are growing and developing. It’s also dedicated time building a relationship with them. These are the things that improve job happiness. And when your employees are happy then they’re less likely to be seeking alternative employment.  When you weigh the time investment of one-on-ones against the cost of even just one new hire then doing them really is a no brainer.


Effective one on one meetings with staff are the engine rooms of effective managers. A real powerhouse management practice that achieves so much. It sounds too simple and unglamorous to be true. But the most effective management technique is to do regular, high-quality one on ones with your team.

Tip: What no one showed you about one on one meetings

Did anyone show you how to run a one on one meetings? No one showed me and so when I started managing I just kinda made it up as I went along. And this is what most bosses do because running a great One on One Meeting is a Manager Skill that they just don’t teach you in school. That’s why I made a free, online course so you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did.

If you feel your one on one meetings aren't producing the five benefits above. Or if you've never been trained how to do one on ones. Or if you've had employee pushback implementing them in the past then register for the free Mini Manager Training Program on One on One Meetings With Staff to find out the 3 Steps 2 Easy 1 on 1's (includes a 121 form with 1 2 1 meeting agenda).