Balancing Flexibility & Consistency: Structuring 1-on-1 Meetings


When it comes to structuring 1-on-1 meetings, it’s important to strike a balance between flexibility and consistency. While each meeting should be tailored to the individual and their specific needs, having a general structure can help ensure that important topics are covered and time is used efficiently. Here’s an ideal structure for 1-on-1 meetings:


Check-In and Relationship Building:

  • Begin the meeting by creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Use this time to engage in casual conversation, ask about the team member’s well-being, and show genuine interest in their personal and professional lives. Building rapport and establishing a positive connection can set the tone for a productive meeting.

Agenda Review:

  • Review the agenda for the meeting. This can be a shared document where both the manager and team member can add items they’d like to discuss. Prioritize the topics based on urgency or importance, and make sure to cover any pending items from the previous meeting. This helps create a clear focus for the conversation.

Progress and Achievements:

  • Spend time discussing the team member’s progress, recent accomplishments, and any challenges they might have encountered. Celebrate successes and acknowledge their hard work. This not only boosts morale but also provides an opportunity to recognize their contributions.

Goal Setting and Performance:

  • Discuss current goals, projects, and performance expectations. Assess progress towards goals, identify any obstacles, and provide constructive feedback on performance. Collaborate on setting new objectives or refining existing ones. This discussion should align individual goals with team and organizational objectives, fostering a sense of purpose and direction.

Development and Learning:

  • Allocate time to discuss the team member’s professional development and growth opportunities. Identify their aspirations, strengths, and areas for improvement. Discuss training, mentoring, or stretch assignments that can help them enhance their skills and advance their career. Encourage them to take ownership of their development and provide support as needed.

Feedback and Support:

  • Create an open dialogue for the team member to share any concerns, ideas, or suggestions they may have. Actively listen to their feedback and respond with empathy. Offer guidance and support, and collaborate on finding solutions to challenges they may be facing. This is an opportunity to strengthen the manager-employee relationship and build trust.

Wrap-Up and Action Items:

  • Summarize key points discussed during the meeting and establish actionable steps for both the manager and team member. Clearly define responsibilities, deadlines, and next steps. Ensure that any follow-up actions or decisions are documented for future reference.

Closing and Appreciation:

  • End the meeting on a positive note by expressing appreciation for the team member’s time, effort, and contributions. Reinforce their value to the team and organization. This final step helps maintain motivation and reinforces the supportive manager-employee relationship.


Remember, this structure is a guideline, and flexibility is key. Adapt the duration and focus of each section based on the needs and preferences of the team member. Regularly solicit feedback from them to fine-tune the structure and make the 1-on-1 meetings more effective and meaningful.


Chief of Staff, Dayna Stoller, creates internal initiatives that contribute to the overall well-being of OP’s employees. Dayna has tackled an overhaul of benefits and onboarding processes, vastly improving the experience for all while nurturing a culture that received Crain’s Chicago Best Places to work in 2018 and 2020. Dayna also helps to lead Objective Paradigm’s efforts in the charity founded by Ryan Pollock, T4Youth.


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