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My Super Simple 1:1 Template
This has shifted over the years and is by no means perfect. Stay open to adjusting the template over time, especially when prompted by the…
This has shifted over the years and is by no means perfect. Stay open to adjusting the template over time, especially when prompted by the person you are having the 1:1 with.
I’ve been conducting 1:1s for over seven years now and have iterated between large agendas, no agendas, and every variety in between. From all the years of working with individuals, I’m happiest with this agenda that I’ve put together over the last year. It’s pretty straightforward, but take a look and I’ll explain below.
Keep in mind; any agenda can work, the important part is to meet consistently. The (R) indicates recurring topics which can be added or removed as the individual sees fit.
(R) Personal check-in:
(R) Process Feedback:
(R) Team Feedback:
(R) Goal 1:
(R) Goal 2:
(R) Goal 3:
Topics to Discuss:
10 is best, 1 is worst
Career Path (1–10)
That’s it, that’s the starting agenda.
Pretty straightforward, the Agenda section has (R) recurring topics and then free-form topics, whatever the individual wants to add for the week. I like to add goals on here as a recurring topic to see how things are progressing and what I can do to assist, but if the individual finds it to be stressful to include those, take ’em off!
The substance within each bullet can be anywhere from one word, to an entire novel. Either way, discuss and determine any necessary action items or next steps.
There are two sections about feedback. This is intended to give chances for the individual to bring up things that may be going great and we should do more of, or things going poorly that we should fix or stop doing. If the individual consistently does not have any thoughts here (positive or otherwise), assign it as homework. If they still don’t have opinions there, that’s fine too.
Revisit your templated topics quarterly and see if there are recurring topics to add or remove.
Note: Some folks shy away from the “Personal Check-in” on the individual side and that’s okay. If someone is uncomfortable discussing anything outside of work, that is their choice and it should be respected. I’ve found that trust is more easily established when you understand more about the individual, but if they draw a line, absolutely do not cross it.
Tracking data in a 1:1 may be a bit jarring for some folks, but it is not intended to be a super official number. The Data section is to give a quick gut check of how you’re feeling in certain areas, and is sometimes the only part that gets filled out.
The quick assessment gives a quick look at how everything in the world is affecting the individual, with each category digging into a different area.
Stress (yes, I know it seems backward): How’s your stress level this week? If it’s a 10 (no stress), how do we keep it there? If it’s a 1, what do we need to do immediately to get you into a better situation?
Goals: How do you feel you’re tracking with your goals? Lower numbers tend to point to a lack of clarity around goals or a lack of time able to be spent on those goals. Higher numbers mean we’re on track and feel good about knowing what to do. This should also reflect the updates in the recurring section about goals. Knowing growth is not linear, this one could fluctuate quite a bit.
Alignment: No, not Chaotic Neutral, or Lawful Good, Alignment focuses on how aligned the individual feels to company goals/vision, team goals, or their own goals. Alignment can make or break engagement, so I like to ensure the individual can address alignment each week. This is especially helpful during times of change.
Career Path: How do you feel about your career path here? Do you have one? Is it going as you expected? Lower scores here indicate you should spend some time determining the current role scope, desired role scope, and how that fits into the company at large.
Feedback: Are you getting enough feedback? From me? From your team? Enough constructive or positive feedback? “Not enough feedback” is a frequent complaint surfaced to managers, so I like to ensure we have a chance to address it weekly.
You can also ask the individual if there are any other categories they’d like to track. Look for anomalies and historical patterns. Do not, and I repeat, do not try to compare the numbers of one individual to another. That’s not the point of this exercise.
This section is for shared notes, or the individual’s notes during/after your conversation. Determine between the two of you what you want to use it for and go from there.
Note The Lack of Project Updates
Too many early managers make 1:1s about project updates (this is also a sign of a bad manager). You can check on projects elsewhere, so don’t clog your 1:1s with a checklist of projects being worked on.
If there are chunks you’re working through together, sure. If you want to review PRs during this time, that’s also fine, but make sure it is the choice of the individual. This is their time.
Don’t Force It
I do not require my direct reports to fill out every section. My standard ask is, if nothing else, please put in the data at the bottom. A gut check is enough to go off of, and from there, if there’s really nothing to talk about, that’s fine too!
How about you, how do you like to conduct your 1:1s? Any particular template that has been meaningful or worked well for you?
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