5 common mistakes during 1-on-1 meetings

Feedback and workplace culture are two key ingredients for any organization’s success. As when they are taken seriously, chances are that the organization will succeed. Not only in profit, but in productivity, growth, and performance too. 

There are various ways of creating a feedback-driven culture in the workplace. One of the effective types is 1:1 meetings. It keeps the manager and employee aligned and builds a functional working relationship.

What is a 1-on-1 meeting?

1-on-1 meetings are free-form meetings where the manager and employee catch up weekly/monthly. It includes aligning priorities and discussing goals, past performance, career developments, and roadblocks. As a result, building good working relationships and mutual trust. 

Here are five benefits of 1-on-1 meetings:

  • It helps in getting to know each other and building trusting relationships. 
  • It creates an ideal environment to learn about the performance and exchange feedback.
  • It helps in knowing the check-in goals and actions to be taken to hit the next goal.
  • It discusses personal and professional growth.
  • It holds people accountable for their actions positively and productively. 

Read: How feedback helps in a manager’s success?

But, when not done properly, it may create confusion and lead to a breakdown in alignment and communication. And do you know that most of the mistakes are common in the majority of workplaces? 

Can you guess what they could be? Read below to find out the top 5 mistakes during 1-on-1 meetings and how can you avoid them! 

Top 5 mistakes during 1-on-1 meetings

1-on-1 meetings are ineffective when there is no proper framework, agenda, or mindset. Hence, it is important to work on those blunders and never repeat them. 


No agenda for the meeting: When 1-on-1 meetings are scheduled without any key points or agenda, it would lead to wasting time. Moreover, the worthless talks can make this meeting boring and worthless. 

Tip: Always prepare the list of questions and topics and let employees know beforehand. Ensure that you lead the discussion by asking the right questions. This will help in maintaining the quality of the meeting and streamlining communication. Hence, getting your team members to open up with their thoughts. 

Below are a few questions you can ask in 1-on-1 meetings:

  • Are you happy with the comfort level in your physical workplace? 
  • When do you enjoy the most at work?
  • Do you feel that your role at the company is well-defined?
  • Is there anything at work that is leading to delays or frustration?
  • Do you think that work is distributed evenly across your team? 

Pro-tip: HuddleUp platform can help managers in making 1-on-1 meetings more productive and effective. With tools like creating agendas, adding talking points, and scheduling meetings, your work is already half-done. 


Making it a one-way communication: When you talk more than your employees in the meeting, they may feel lost and disengaged. And this might lose the essence of why 1-on-1 meetings are conducted. 

Sometimes managers dominate the conversations which can make the meetings dull. Hence, One-way communication is a big no-no in 1-on-1 meetings.

Tip: During 1-on-1 meetings, you should do 90% listening and 10% talking. Make this meeting about them so that they feel involved and valued. You can bring open-ended questions and let the employees think about those topics. Ensure that you bring tough questions to build mutual trust with each other. 

Besides work, you should enquire about their well-being too. This will help in building more authentic relationships at work. 


Being distracted during the meeting: Getting distracted and interrupted during 1-on-1 meetings should be avoided the most. This can lead to a decrease in the motivation of employees and can steer the conversation away. Also, if this happens continuously, employees will likely avoid 1-on-1 meetings. 

Also, if not external distractions, you may get away with your own stories and ideas. This can make your employees feel less valued and escape these meetings.

Tip: Your employees need undivided attention during 1-on-1 meetings. Ensure that you drop all types of distractions and actively listen to them. You can even dedicate a day to these meetings to make it easier for you. Maintain steady eye contact with your employees. Also, note down everything they are speaking about. 


Considering it as a daily task meeting: There’s a difference between 1-on-1 meetings and to-do tasks meetings. But, most managers interchange them with each other. Hence, they end up sharing status updates, looking at metrics and discussing projects. This is a big no-no and should be avoided at all costs. 

Tip: The primary reason for having 1-on-1 meetings is to get to know employees on a personal level. It includes knowing their strengths, challenges, roadblocks, and how they can work better together. 

Getting their feedback and ideas, asking them what’s on their mind, and any issues, if they are facing, are a few of the things that you can take into consideration. You can also coach them and help them grow both personally and professionally. 


Not following up on action items: You’re making a fatal mistake if you are not following up on the things that were being said in the previous meeting. Chances would be that the employees will stop giving feedback and sharing problems. It may make them realize there is no point in discussion as nothing is followed up in the subsequent meetings. 

Tip: Indeed, 1-on-1 meetings are mostly about ‘What’s happening right now’. but, sometimes it is important to follow up on action items or the things that do make sense to discuss in the future Note down the clear action items as it will make meetings more meaningful and easy to follow up. This will also help in building mutual trust and understanding. Ensure that you take action and also thank them for bringing it up. 

In a nutshell

The true essence of a 1-on-1 meeting is to know about your employees besides work. Make sure that you do it right so that it can help in creating a purpose-driven culture at your workplace.