The Secret Sauce To Powerful 1 on 1 Meetings

When 50% of employees quit their boss, not their job, there’s something broken in how managers lead their teams. This stat tells us a lot about the need for better communication and connection between supervisors and employees.

One-on-one meetings between managers and their team members are a primary area where improvement can happen. The heart of this is that many business leaders struggle to find time to focus on and develop their employees. Add to this the reality that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees, and 75% of companies struggle with overwhelmed employees. You get a recipe for frustrated employees and poor performance.

These numbers reveal some sad statistics about the current state of leadership. You would think all the communication would help. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t know how to facilitate productive meetings, are too busy to focus on them appropriately, or have too many of them together! Yet, there’s been a dramatic increase in meetings since the pandemic began.

Research indicates there is a high cost to not resolving the issues mentioned. According to the Harvard Business review, soft skills issues cost large corporations $144,500 per day! Small businesses are not exempt from these costs either. A key component to resolving the communication and overwhelm occurring in firms worldwide are one-on-one meetings. When done well, these meetings significantly benefit employee and business performance.

The research shows one on one meetings:

● Improve communication
● Provide feedback opportunities
● Boost retention
● Increase engagement 3x over other employees
● Allow employees to vent and limit frustrations
● Help resolve conflicts faster and prevents others
● Improves employee performance and saves time

When leaders have effective meetings with their employees weekly or biweekly, their businesses benefit in all the aforementioned ways, plus many more.
These meetings provide a considerable benefit for time-strapped small business owners and leaders. These meetings will eliminate wasted time and resources in ad hoc conversations and drawn-out team meetings and help the employee confidently make decisions and move forward.

Great meetings follow a simple structure to ensure they remain productive. Below is a 5 part template you can immediately use in your leadership.

The One on One Template

There are five fundamental keys to effective one-on-one meetings.
1. Keep them on topic
2. 30-minutes or less
3. Honor the scheduled time
4. Employee brings agenda
5. Follow the CORA approach

Keep meetings on Topic.

Great meetings don’t stray from topic to topic. They are brief and tackle one issue at a time (preferably only one subject). Further topics can be discussed in a separate meeting or only after actions and accountability has been assigned.

Short Meetings

One-on-one meetings should be no more than 30-minutes. Short meetings force the manager and employee to stay on topic and engaged. It also creates a sense of purpose and energy that longer meetings tend not to have.

Honor the Scheduled Time

Statistics show that over 42% of these meeting types get rescheduled. The rescheduling alone is a waste of time, gets people out of a routine, and delays needed communication.

Employee Agenda

Employees need to provide the agenda. If they have been led well, they will know their responsibilities and what needs to be communicated in the meeting.


Speaking of communication, great meetings will follow a simple formula like CORA. This acronym stands for Communication, Obstacles, Resources, & Action + Accountability.
The idea with CORA is to create a structure for the meeting to follow that will always produce results.

Use the following example questions to help you get started with this approach.
● What needs to be communicated and to who? What has already been communicated?
● What obstacles were overcome? What obstacles are anticipated?
● What resources are necessary? What resources have been used or can be used?
● Who will do what and by when?

At the end of this 30-minute meeting, both the manager and the team member will have clarity in each of these areas. They both need to walk away with actions to take between this meeting and the next. During the next meeting, those actions will be reported on by both people. This ensures excellent accountability and progress. It also demonstrates to the employee that their supervisor is willing to take action to move things forward as well.


There are too many meetings in most businesses, and they aren’t as effective as they could be. There are many benefits when you have effective one-on-one meetings, two of which are much higher employee engagement and an overall decrease in the need for meetings saving you hours. To watch a video presentation of this concept, you can check out the SAGE Mindset YouTube channel to learn how to implement this into your small business.


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