An In-Depth Guide to 1:1s

Grab your mug and have your best 1:1 yet. Use this guide to get the most out of your next conversation.

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How often should I hold 1:1s?

1:1s should be done regularly – at least 30 minutes every two weeks.
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What should 1:1s cover?

Here’s a formula that we put together based on best practices we’ve seen across a range of organizations:

“Leading Highly Effective 1:1s” is part of Hone’s Core Manager Track, and is also available as a standalone class. Experience Hone for yourself.

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10% Relationship Building

Start your 1:1 with questions to get to know each other better and build on your relationship. You might ask:
  1. How are you feeling?
  2. How is everything?
  3. What’s something fun you did last weekend/have coming up this weekend
  4. What have you been watching/reading lately?

25% Wins

Then, move onto the core of the 1:1 and spend about a quarter of your time discussing wins. Questions could include:

  1. What were your wins this week/since our last meeting?
  2. What were you most proud of?
  3. What about this makes it such a big win for you
  4. What did you enjoy most about it?
  5. What could have made it even better?

25% Frustrations

Next, spend about a quarter of your 1:1 reviewing frustrations in order to understand if your direct report is annoyed or down about something. You could ask:

  1. What has frustrated you this week/since our last meeting?​
  2. What can be/could have been done to avoid this frustration?
  3. How long have you felt this way?
  4. How can I help?

25% Projects

Once your report has had a chance to reflect and decompress, it’s time to talk about their work and set concrete goals. To gain insight into their workstreams, you might ask:

  1. What are your current priorities?
  2. What do you want to achieve this week/before our next meeting?
  3. What blockers do you have?
  4. What support do you need from me? From others?

15% Feedback & Recap

Finally, use the remaining time to offer your direct report feedback via the SBIF model (more below), then recap the 1:1. Note that feedback can be positive, constructive, or both. And while you’re giving feedback, also use this time to ask for feedback for yourself – what can you be doing better as a manager?

  1. Give feedback (positive or critical or both) using SBIF.
  2. ​​Check in on previous feedback.
  3. Ask for feedback – What can I do better as your manager?
  4. Recap any next steps identified together.

What is the SBIF model?

SBIF stands for Situation-Behavior-Impact-Feedback. This model helps you deliver better feedback by focusing on specific behaviors and situations, thus minimizing people taking feedback personally.

In short, here’s how to use it:

Situation

Describe the specific situation, sticking only to the facts and leaving out your feelings or judgements.

Behavior

Describe the behavior, again by sticking to the facts. Do not make any assumptions about the person’s intent, nor jump to personal judgements.

Impact

Describe how the behavior affected you or others. Here, you can also share your feelings, but be wary of passing judgement. For example, instead of passing judgement on a person’s actions as good or bad, you can use phrases like “I was happy when you ___” or “I was frustrated when you ____.”

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* Updated 2/22/2022