Woman at desk reviews a paper document while she meets on video with a colleague - one on ones.

Performance Reviews, Year-End Meetings and the Importance of One on Ones with Employees

December 2, 2021

The Enlightened Workplace Project.

As we near the end of the calendar year, many people are looking ahead to annual one on one meetings with their managers and team members. Ideally, one on ones (1:1s) have been occurring throughout the year with a regular cadence so that there are no surprises on either side during an annual meeting or performance review. 1:1s are such an important part of the ROI culture, that we’d like to share our recommended guidelines for them as well as downloadable templates to guide and track your 1:1 meetings.

Top Tips

  1. Hold one on ones regularly! This is one of the most important ways for managers and team members to stay in touch.

  2. Have a set amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes a week, 60 minutes once/month).

  3. Use a predictable process and templates if necessary.

  4. Do not miss 1:1s and only reschedule if you absolutely need to. Nothing tells an employee that they are not important more than regularly cancelling meetings with them.

Pre-Meeting Form

At ROI, we have a 1:1 pre-form that team members can fill out prior to their one on one meeting. This is where folks can share wins and celebrations since the last meeting and give updates on their projects and responsibilities. If team members are also people managers, there can be a section for them to share how their direct reports are doing.

Importantly, at the top of the pre-form, employees can share any personal updates, plans, vacations or family news. This is an essential section that enables managers to get to know their employees better and understand more about their lives. Managers should also pay attention to the section of the pre-form that indicates what help or support team members need. This is an important part of the conversation even if team members haven’t brought anything up directly. Managers can also ask if the employee has any additional concerns that haven’t been discussed. These simple practices can make an employee feel seen and cared for which in turn affects their engagement in a positive way.

1:1 Tracking Form

In addition to the pre-meeting form, we also recommend a dedicated document to take notes during one on ones. We call this a 1:1 tracking form. At the top of the document, you can record important personal information about your employee, such as the names of their family members, their birthday, hobbies and even their pets. Any important events or personal circumstances, such as a sick family member or an upcoming graduation, can be recorded here. Remembering personal details by having them written down, goes a long way toward building relationships with team members in addition to goodwill.

In his lectures on The Untethered Soul at Work, Michael Singer shares some criteria to help people up-level their one on ones to more enlightened conversations. These practices work for 1:1s of any kind – with direct reports, bosses or peers.

  1. When having a difficult conversation, pause. Make sure you don’t have a personal agenda regarding the conversation.

  2. Assess whether you have any sensitivities or defensiveness around the topic and make sure it doesn’t cloud the conversation.

  3. View any one on one with another person as a positive opportunity to connect and deepen your relationship.

  4. LISTEN.

  5. Be open to whatever comes up.

Holding regular 1:1s with peers and other stakeholders in your organization is an excellent way to develop strong working relationships. According to Harvard Business Review, employees who report having friends at work have higher levels of productivity, retention and job satisfaction than those who don’t. Getting to know your employees and work colleagues on a personal level is good for life and good for business!

The Enlighted Workplace Project.

Does your workplace inspire you and your team to thrive?


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Barbara Fagan


Barbara is the founder of ROI. Named one of Silicon Valley’s most influential women and a lifelong nature lover, author and inspirational speaker, Barbara has devoted her career to improving the lives of employees and strengthening their relationship to their families, their passions and their work.