One-to-ones are found to be critical to employee engagement. They are most effective when they are frequent, regular and participants share the job of setting an agenda.
Employees of managers who don’t have one-to-one meetings are 4 times as likely to be disengaged, whilst employees who have regular one-to-one meetings with their managers are 3 times more likely to be engaged, according to a study by Gallup (2015).
Findings from Saberr’s primary research
Saberr interviewed 100 people across industries, countries and seniority levels. Almost everyone interviewed, had engaged in some form of one-to-one in the last year, however, there was some confusion around the terminology of a one-to-one. In less tech focussed circles the term one-to-one was often associated with six month-yearly reviews.
Participants found frequent, regular one-to-ones most effective. Most positive feedback about one-to-ones came from people who have them more frequently, anywhere between once a week to once a fortnight. Monthly one-to-ones were the limit for effective meetings. Beyond that either they misunderstood what a one-to-one is or the outcome was negative.
One-to-ones were found to be more effective if participants shared the job of setting an agenda. Agenda setting was overwhelmingly decided by the manager in most cases. It was interesting to note that whenever Saberr spoke to an employee who was either given full control of their agenda or had a fair amount of input, the one-to-ones were consistently praised for their effectiveness. When those who were not so positive were asked what would be one way to improve a one-to-one, almost everyone quoted agenda setting as their number one improvement.