Thoughts from the Team: What should be discussed in a 1:1?

Welcome to the second installment of “Thoughts from the Team”, where we analyze processes, meetings and relationship builders that we think are particularly useful (or not). We approach these questions using our perspectives both as employees and managers. 

You may remember that last week we wondered if our team thinks 1:1 meetings are important (spoiler alert, yes, we all think they’re essential). 

This week, we’re looking at the most important topics we think should be discussed in every 1:1 meeting. We hope you’ll learn some practical examples to improve your own conversations with your team or manager. Our answers varied between everything from banter to personal to work check ins. Read more below!

Q: What are the most important discussion topics of a 1:1 meeting?

Robert Kluin (Co-founder):

I like to check in with them with an open question first: how’s everything going? I try to make sure to ask about major items in their personal life, but I’m very aware some people don’t want to discuss personal stuff at work—I don’t pry. I always ask how the team’s doing, how major collaborative projects are going, if they’ve got questions or concerns, and if they feel like everyone is in alignment. Otherwise the time is theirs, outside of tactical items which come up (eg bonus, review feedback, etc).

Maya Shaff (Marketing):

I try to cover the following topics: Personal time/how’s life, work successes and struggles, career track check-in, and upcoming projects for at the individual and organizational level to identify opportunities for growth.

Lindsey Kluin (Product Operations):

I like to keep 1:1’s unstructured and open, with the intention of inviting my team members to talk about anything that’s on their mind – sometimes it’s work related, sometimes it’s more about life outside of work.  As a manager, I believe that my primary role during 1:1’s is to listen.

Alex Campbell (Engineering):

The key feature of a 1:1 meeting is that it’s actually 1:1 (not a group conversation). I think other than that, the content of a 1:1 can vary quite a bit and still be useful.

Mike Taylor (Product & Customer Experience):

I have found that the most important thing for me to understand during 1:1’s is some form of “How can I better support you?” I’m convinced that my role as a manager is primarily to empower and equip my team to be able to do their best work. I’m also convinced there are always ways I could be doing that better, and I want them to feel free to express what they need from me.

Coury Ditch (Engineering):

Trying to get a feel for how my manager/direct-report is doing in life, at work, etc. Open up with some light banter to get comfortable, makes it easier to tread into the more difficult topics if need be. Make sure my manager knows any salient observations, concerns, or anxieties I have about the company/project/team.