How To Run Effective One-On-Ones? — Fit To Lead

With the right mindsets, soft skills and practical top tips you can turn them into valuable and collaborative sessions with immense impact.

  1. The how:

The How

11 key mindsets you should have in a one-on-one

  1. Build rapport from beginning to end but like with any mindset you can overplay it. It shouldn’t stop you from having the tricky and crucial conversations
  2. Listening mode, full attention, no distractions
  3. Stay curious for longer, don’t jump in to fix the problem. Do not think that you must solve everyone’s problems for them.
  4. Be supportive in the sense ‘I’ve got your back’
  5. Belief and respect. As a coach I must believe in the person I’m coaching and you must do the same with your team member. If you don’t find a way to respect them, it will seep out and adversely affect the meetings
  6. Non-judgemental. If you are going to sit there and judge your colleague they will soon stop opening up and start getting defensive, preventing any learning from taking place
  7. Empathic and holistic. Be sensitive to others’ feelings and comfortable talking about personal issues as well as professional challenges. I don’t think you can or should separate the personal and the professional
  8. Challenge your team member in the sense you believe open and honest feedback is necessary to help someone get better and that you really want them to succeed
  9. It is not just a cozy chat, it is very much results-orientated for the individual as well as the company as a whole
  10. Be their Thinking Partner to encourage them to do their best thinking. Questions are more powerful than answers
  11. Hold them to account and be their Accountability Partner

3 soft skills you need to develop to have exceptional one-on-ones


  • Helps their colleague define an ill-defined problem
  • Is aware enough to know when they don’t need to provide the answers
  • Can offer more value by asking the right questions,, listening attentively and supporting the team member to work out the best solution
  • Facilitates their development rather than dictating what needs to be done.


Stay curious for longer

The What

7 practical tips on how to run exceptional one-on-ones

  • 50% direct report’s agenda
  • 15% your agenda
  • 15% how they are doing
  • 20% on their development plan
  1. Things that have gone well. I believe every meeting should start and end with a positive reflection. It helps bring the person into the room and get their mindset in a creative and calm mode. It’s also an opportunity to identify your direct reports’ strengths and talents and to develop roles which play to their strengths. Questions you might ask: “In the past week, what have you been happy about?” or “What has gone well?” or “What has your team done well?”

7. What documentation should you use in your one-on-ones?

  • Easier to track follow-up items
  • Helps show progress over time
  • Demonstrates to the direct report they are being heard
  • Creates a record of performance successes and issues
  • Makes the annual performance review more meaningful as you have a record of actual examples over time rather than relying on fading memories

Mastering the one-on-one is essential



Founder CEO Coach to Scale Up Leaders at

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