Article Redefining One-on-One Meetings: Insights and Solutions for Enhanced Professional Growth

In the quest to uncover the effectiveness of one-on-one meetings within the professional landscape, our recent LinkedIn poll has revealed a startling truth: nearly half of the participants are dissatisfied or ambivalent about the outcomes of these supposedly pivotal interactions. This revelation prompted us to delve deeper, seeking insights from both leaders and their reports on the challenges and shortcomings of current meeting practices. Through a series of interviews, we've unearthed a spectrum of experiences—from the frustration of unpreparedness and the pitfalls of micromanagement to the yearning for motivational discussions that ignite professional growth. This article not only sheds light on the common pain points experienced during these critical conversations but also introduces as a beacon of hope for those seeking to transform the quality and impact of their one-on-one meetings. Join us as we explore the findings and offer solutions to navigate away from the doldrums of ineffective meetings towards more engaging and productive dialogues.

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📊 In a recent LinkedIn poll, we asked you ‘How satisfied are you with the outcomes of your one-on-one meetings?’ A staggering 28% of the respondents shared that they are dissatisfied with the outcomes of their one-on-one meetings. A further 22% shared that they have neutral feelings about the meeting outcomes. It is sad to know 50% of the 330 respondents are feeling ambivalent or worse, let down by the outcomes of the meetings.

😲 Stunned by these results, we conducted a number of interviews to try to get to the bottom of why these important opportunities for growth are going to waste. Here is a summary of what we found out when we asked, ‘What are the pain-points you feel from these one-on-ones?’

👥 Leaders’ and Managers’ Insights:

Almost one third of reports never prepare for the one-on-ones, and many managers say they always have to overcompensate for the reports' lack of preparation - even when the opportunity to contribute to the agenda is given to the reports ahead of time. Some managers claim they can increase motivation through various approaches, but they all claim that their one-on-ones often start off as being low energy discussions. One piece of advice that rang true was this: "You can't care more about a person's success than they do - they have to have more emotional investment than you."

🔍 Reports Insights:

One strong sentiment was as follows, ‘Don't tell me how I should do something or make it a task review session, that is micromanagement. I really dislike one-on-ones that are just weekly check-ins on the work I'm doing.’ Reports wanted their meetings to be meaningful and focus some of the time on their personal development as well as the projects they were excited about. Acknowledgement of their contributions and purposeful discussion about the direction of projects was also highly valued but often lacking in the meetings they had with leaders.

🌐 Experienced professionals feel like some managers just push them for maximum productivity and that one-on-ones are used to reinforce productivity and delivery expectations. This leads to a sense of dread before each meeting and the experiences become draining for them. They'd rather not have productivity focussed meetings all the time because having the same task-related conversations every week is not enjoyable or motivational. The common sentiment expressed here was by people that had more than 10 years of experience. Interestingly, this view is juxtaposed against the views of the very early-career individuals we interviewed who greatly enjoyed this type of task-related discussion.

🔀 Another interesting insight came from a veteran respondent who shared this: ‘Depending on the manager and their discussion style - I may get energy and motivation or alternatively be sapped of motivation and energy. Those that help me see myself in a brighter future give me the former, and those that just focus on the tasks at hand just drain me.’ There is a pretty common pattern of people disliking the task focused one-on-ones and I hope this gives you food for thought.

😊 You may be wondering why I have a picture of my grin in this post and the answer is simple. The solution to awful meetings already exists and is growing in popularity day-by-day. To help you avoid holding meetings like the ones described above, consider joining us at You will not regret your decision.

  • Align to avoid confusion.
  • Collaborate to avoid suspicion.
  • Succeed without despair.