Are you nervous to have a one on one conversation with someone at work? Maybe you need to start having regular meetings with each of your team members to make sure they’re performing as they should. It can be intimidating to take on this kind of meeting!

However, when you have the right tools and preparation, a one on one conversation with your employees is a beneficial use of time. They can help with productivity and the overall culture of your workplace!

Let’s look at how to prepare for and host a great one on one meeting!

Set Aside Time

The first thing you have to do for a proper one on one conversation is set the time aside to do it. Most of these conversations don’t need to be incredibly long, which is part of why it’s easy to push them off and not schedule them.

Your best option is to send a calendar invite to your employee with a set time for your conversation. This will put the meeting on both of your calendars, allowing you to make sure you schedule nothing else at that time.

Depending on how often you do your one on one conversations, you can even make it a reoccurring event on your calendars. With this approach, the one on one meetings will become part of your routine before you know it!

one on one conversation

Preparing for Your One On One Conversation

In order to have a great meeting with your employee, you need to take the time to prepare for it. This will allow you to approach the meeting professionally and with an open mind. Let’s look at some of the best ways to do this!

Remember Your Employees Are Humans

This may sound silly, but it’s important. It can be easy to forget that your employees have lives outside of the workplace, but they do. They may have difficult situations going on, or they may be in a great place! Either way, don’t assume you know how the meeting will go.

Prepare to build a relationship with your employee in addition to helping them grow in their position. If you have to have a difficult conversation, do it regardless of what’s going on in their personal lives. However, do so with tact and empathy in order to get the best response from them.

Have a Clear Idea of Expectations

In order to explain why your employee needs to improve in an area, you have to be able to explain what the expectations are in order to be an excellent employee.

It may be easy to do but refrain from using other employees as an example of what to do (or what not to do). Take the “people” element out of your expectations. Instead, focus on specific behaviors or approaches that would allow an employee to excel!

Have an Agenda

The best way to make sure you have the best agenda set up for your one on one conversation is to check in with your employee a day or so before. Ask them what they would like to discuss or if they have areas they feel they need some extra guidance on.

With this information in mind, you can create an agenda that will allow for time for what you want to talk about as well as what they want to.

Make a Plan

Before you sit down with your employee, have some ideas of how you would like to see improvements. Consider what steps your employee can take to show that they’re taking initiative to make a difference in their performance.

However, remember that this plan shouldn’t be the only option. Having some ideas before the meeting is a good idea but allow your employee to sound off as well. You can present the plan you have and then see if they have any additions or changes they’d like to make. From there, you can make a plan that works for them and you!

Having the One On One Conversation

Now that you’ve prepared for your conversation, it’s time to actually have it. There are a lot of great tips out there for how to have the perfect one on one meeting. However, we’ve got the best tips right here for you to follow!

Start off with Checking In

You won’t want to start right in on the meat of the meeting. Instead, begin by building some trust between you and your employee. Ask them how they’re feeling, and then let them know how you’re feeling.

When you’re honest, it will press them to be more honest with you as well. You need them to feel safe and ready to be vulnerable for the best meeting. This is a perfect chance for you to lead by example.

Ask for Updates

If you’ve had a previous meeting with this employee, ask them to give you an update on how they’ve done with the goals you came up with last time. They should have some kind of feedback or metrics they can reference to let you know how your current plan is going.

Check-In on a Personal Level

Keep it professional, but ask how your employee is doing outside of work. When you ask them this kind of question, it shows your employees that you care about them as an individual. This can help you build trust. Not only that, but it can give you some insight into potential reasons for the struggles your employee may be facing.

Talk About Challenges

Now’s the time to find out where your employee feels like they need some extra help or guidance. They may have given you this information when you reached out before. If so, you can ask any clarifying questions you had about what they mentioned.

When your employee tells you what they’re struggling with, don’t just give them a solution by telling them what to do. This can come across in a way that will make your employee shut down. Instead, commit to coming up with a solution as a team by taking their opinions into consideration.

Keep Them Accountable

Once you’ve come up with some goals that your employee should have, it’s crucial to keep them accountable for the goals. Make sure you’re following up on a regular basis to see how things are going. When you have feedback on an area, give it quickly.

Don’t wait until the next performance review or one on one meeting to check in. If the need arises, touch base with your employee between meetings so that you can get a true idea of how things are going.

Talk About Morale

Ask your employee to be honest about their morale at work. See how they feel about the overall work culture and ask them if they see areas where it can improve. Having a healthy culture is key to high performance at work.

You can’t truly know how morale is at work unless you’re asking about it and getting feedback. This feedback can give you a true look at potential gaps that are hurting the culture of your team.

Celebrate Wins

Don’t forget to talk about what’s been going well. Every employee is likely to have areas they need to improve, but they’ll have successes as well. Make sure you’re looking back on recent successes your employee has had. Then, in the one on one conversation, mention them.

When you celebrate wins, make sure you highlight the impact it’s made on the team as a whole. This will help your employees see how valuable they are to the team!

Confirm Action Items

Make sure your employee leaves the meeting with a clear idea of how they should be approaching their improvements at work. You should both have a clear expectation of the timeline and resources needed to meet the goals at hand.

Each employee will take different amounts of time to make different changes. Keep this in mind when setting action item expectations. You shouldn’t expect the same rate of improvement in everyone, so you shouldn’t set the same deadline expectations either. Be mindful of where your employees need extra help and how that can change their timeline.

Take Notes

Have some notes that you take over what your employee mentions during your conversation. These notes should be useful in looking back at how your employee has progressed over time. They can also help remind you of extra details you may have learned about them.

You can also give your employee some notes they can take with them about what you talked about. Giving them a written plan can help them look back on it after your conversation. When they have this to see, they’re more likely to keep up with their changes.

Follow Up

Of course, your one on one conversations will only meet their peak success when you follow up with your employees later. This shows your employees that you’re committed to their success. Not only that, but it allows you to catch issues in your action plans before they get out of hand.


One on one conversation should become a regular part of your work culture. These meetings allow you to build a connection with each employee and give them coaching that’s tailored to their strengths, weaknesses, and goals. With these tips, you’ll be ready for any one on one conversation that comes your way!