For People Leaders


5 Tips For Your Managers to Have the Best 1:1s of Their Careers

1:1s are a crucial part of manager relationships. Here’s 7 tips for your managers to improve this part of their work and build stronger rapport with their people.

Jenn Iwerks
Community Development Manager

How many times have you met with an employee about an issue, and the answer is better manager communication?

Yeah, we thought so.

Having consistent, supportive communication is critical for a manager to truly support their people. 1:1s are a key part of this communication, and yet many times managers feel like their 1:1s are just a waste of time.

How do you support managers in having fulfilling and supportive 1:1s? We’ve got 7 tips for you to share that will help your managers have their best 1:1s yet.

1. Reframe the why.

1:1s frequently turn into project updates. And when a meeting is just updates, usually everyone leaves feeling like “that could have been an email”. So, have your managers turn those status updates into a meeting, and use that time during 1:1s for actually connecting. Help your managers understand that a 1:1 is more than just updates: it’s a chance to build a better relationship with their people.

2. Encourage a consistent schedule.

Part of why 1:1s are so powerful is that they foster a sense of trust and dependability. By scheduling a recurring weekly or biweekly time for a 1:1, managers build a dependable relationship with their people. It’s easier to keep track of what’s going on with each person, and they will demonstrate to their people that they matter, because spending time with them is a priority. 

3. Have a shared agenda that the direct report is in charge of.

Having a standard agenda is important for two reasons. One, it allows a direct report to know what is expected during the time together - alleviating any anxiety. And two, it allows everyone to show up to the time together prepared. Setting the expectation that the direct report is in charge of the agenda gives them autonomy to shape the time the way they would like to. An easy way to do this is to create a template 1:1 agenda that can be used company-wide. Have direct reports make a copy of the template and share it with their manager. Then, the two people can both have access to the document and edit it for their needs. 

Create a Campfire account and check out the Campfire Card for our session on “Make the Most of 1-1s” to see our sample agenda.

4. Allow the direct report to drive the conversation.

The goal of a 1:1 is to support the direct report. You can’t really do that without knowing where they need support. It’s important to allow the direct report to determine the focus of the 1:1, so that the time together is used on the areas they need more support. 

Again, a shared agenda where the direct report is the owner is a great way to help them drive the conversation.

5. Ask questions to dive deeper.

The 1:1 time doesn’t have to focus only on work. We bring our whole selves to work. Having space to share major life events, or just how things are going, allows someone to feel like they are seen as a person - not just an employee. Having space in 1:1s to ask questions about what motivates someone, or what’s distracting them, allows for deeper sharing that will build stronger relationships and feelings of care. 

6. Encourage the Diamond Method to discover where people need support.

At Campfire, we like to use the Diamond Method to create an effective discussion that goes deep, builds trust, and results in employees feeling supported to take action.

This means that, like the shape of a diamond, managers enter the conversation at a point, then expand from there by asking questions. These questions reveal a wider perspective and previously unknown insights.

After expanding, managers start to narrow the focus of the conversation on something that leads to action by asking defining questions. Defining questions also demonstrate listening intently. This pattern can be repeated once there is a defined focus area in the conversation.

Managers can learn more and practice this technique in our Campfire session called “Make the Most of 1-1s”.

7. Train your managers to coach instead of problem solve.

Coaching empowers people by having them leave the meeting with ideas they created, rather than someone else’s answers. Coaching also helps to build confidence and autonomy. 

Coaching is also not a skill that most people innately have, so by intentionally training your managers on coaching skills, you help them build this habit into their manager practice. 

These 7 tips will help your managers create powerful 1:1 experiences that everyone looks forward to - improving your company communication and support, and creating more connection along the way.

Thank you! Click the button below to start your download.
download now
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Read next