10 one-on-one meeting tips for meeting with your manager

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Your manager may use one-on-one meetings for performance reviews, brainstorming sessions or project planning. Regardless of the purpose behind them, these types of meetings allow you to learn valuable feedback that you can use to succeed in your role. Preparing in advance and knowing how to do that can help you provide more value to the meeting. In this article, we discuss the importance of preparing before meeting your manager and share one-on-one meeting tips.

Why is it important to use one-on-one meeting tips to prepare for meetings with your manager?

Using one-on-one meeting tips can help you perceive meetings with your manager as something to look forward to. Meeting with your manager gives you a chance to get feedback from them and build rapport. Here's why preparing for one-on-one meetings with a manager is important:

  • Better workplace relationships: When you know what you want to say, do and ask about during a meeting, you present yourself to the manager as a self-aware and professional team member. This can improve the relationship that you have with them, as they'd know they can rely on your professionalism even in challenging situations.

  • Demonstrate your dedication and abilities: Unlike in team meetings, during one-on-one meetings, your manager is likely to put their attention to your individual qualities and abilities. When you come prepared, you show that you're ambitious about using your potential to help them make the project or workplace successful.

  • Makes meetings more valuable: By preparing for a meeting, you can make it more valuable for your manager and yourself. For instance, when your manager wants to meet with you to define your goals for the upcoming year, it's helpful that you prepare a list of the things you'd like to improve or accomplish during that time.

Related: How to write meeting notes: essential steps

10 tips for one-on-one meetings with your manager

There are various things you can do to prepare for meeting your manager. If you're new to the job and want to prepare for your first one-on-one meeting, it's often enough to do your research, know the purpose of the meeting and prepare questions you want to ask. If you're getting ready for a regular meeting, it's often great to include more steps to this process, such as preparing supplementary materials. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

1. Know the purpose of the meeting

As soon as your manager schedule a one-on-one meeting, make sure that you fully understand its purpose. Different types of meetings may require that you approach preparing for them differently. For example, it can be helpful to review your progress from recent months and important workplace milestones if you're preparing for a performance appraisal. It's also helpful to talk to your manager and ask them if there's anything that they want you to bring to the meeting, such as a project report or proof of qualifications.

2. Do some research

Doing research is a great way to prepare, as it allows you to understand the situation from a broader perspective. In some situations, such as when your manager wants to discuss the next stages of a project with you, research can be obligatory. Other times, it's an excellent addition to the meeting that shows your professionalism and dedication.

3. Collaborate on a meeting agenda

You can make your one-on-one meetings more valuable by using a shared online document, in which you'd help your manager prepare talking points before the meeting. This tip can be especially helpful if you're preparing for a more extended meeting, in which you'd discuss several topics, such as the things your team has accomplished in the last year. Volunteering to help prepare the meeting can be a nice thing to do for your manager and help them better understand your perspective ahead of time.

Related: How to write a meeting agenda (with tips and sample)

4. Prepare supplementary materials

If your manager requests that you present a specific concept or share your expertise with them during a one-on-one meeting, preparing supplementary materials is a great way to prepare. For example, you can gather all the information that you want to share and present it to them in a visual form as a presentation. This way, you can make the information or your ideas easier to understand, which helps save your manager's time.

5. Focus on being open

One-on-one meetings can be more demanding than team meetings because your manager's full attention is on you. If you find that idea intimidating, make sure to see the meeting as an opportunity to share your ideas and concerns with your leader. This way, you can nurture an atmosphere of openness and make the meeting more valuable for yourself and your manager.

6. Ask relevant questions

A one-on-one meeting is your uninterrupted time with the manager. You can use this time to better understand what they expect from you or ask them for help if you're struggling with a task or a project. Some effective questions to ask during a meeting with your manager include:

  • Is there something I can do differently to advance my role?

  • How can I improve the way our team works together?

  • Is there anything I can do to help you achieve our internal goals?

  • What's an example of a situation that I've not handled too well in recent months?

7. Pay attention to your body language

Body language is an important element that people use to present themselves in a specific way to their interlocutors. By practising your body language before the meeting, you can increase your awareness of any nonverbal cues and learn how to emphasise your words using gestures and facial expressions. Knowing what type of body language to use during a meeting helps build rapport and appear more trustworthy.

Read more: What is body language? A complete professional guide

8. Ask for feedback

Even if the primary purpose of the meeting is unrelated to your performance, meeting one-on-one with your manager can be a great way to ask them for feedback. Showing that you want to understand how your leader perceives you demonstrates that you're interested in improving your skills and becoming a better team member. If you'd like to ask for feedback, it's usually appropriate to do so at the end of less formal meetings, for example, when the manager just wants to talk about your project's weekly progress.

Related: Positive feedback: why it's important and how to give it

9. Send a meeting confirmation

If your manager scheduled the meeting well ahead of time, you can confirm the time and date with them one or two days before the meeting. Sending a confirmation is an excellent way to show that you're preparing for the meeting. You can also use this to ask any follow-up questions or see if there's anything else they'd like you to bring.

10. Schedule a recurring meeting

If your manager wants to discuss a broader concept with you, it's often helpful to propose that you schedule a recurring meeting or even a series of one-on-one sessions to tackle the issue. Sharing this idea with them demonstrates that you want to approach finding a solution to a workplace problem more strategically. Meeting with your boss or manager regularly is also a great way to understand their work style and build a stronger professional relationship.

Common types of one-on-one meetings with managers

There are various types of one-on-one meetings that your manager may want to schedule with you. These include:

Introductory meeting

When you're new to the job, your manager may want to schedule an introductory meeting with you. During a one-on-one meeting of this type, they're likely to discuss the onboarding process, share more information about the organisation and ask if you have any questions about your new role or team. In this meeting, you can also ask them to go over your notes with you to make sure you understand your responsibilities and what they expect from you during the first weeks at the company.

Check-in meeting

Check-ins are usually regularly recurring meetings that aim to inform the manager about your job progress. During a meeting of this type, you're likely to discuss specific tasks you're working on. This can be a great opportunity to ask for feedback or help with finding a solution to a workplace problem.

Performance appraisal

Performance appraisals are regular, often annual, reviews of your job performance and contribution to the company. It's important that you prepare for it by reviewing what you've accomplished in the last months or a year. At the end of this meeting, the manager may ask you about your goals and professional aspirations. Make sure to discuss your career plans with them or ask them to provide you with guidance if you're unsure what your next step can be.

Related: How to prepare for a performance appraisal

Team dynamics meeting

During a dynamic team meeting, the manager may want to ask about your relationships with other team members. The main purpose behind this is to make sure you work together well and can continue accomplishing your mutual goals. If the manager asks you about specific co-workers, make sure to remain objectively about how you work together.

Explore more articles