A Framework for 1:1s

Lauren Adelle Coaching
4 min readOct 29, 2020

First and foremost, 1:1 time is for your reports, not for you. Managers should listen more than they talk. The purpose of 1:1s is to:

  • Connect with your reports
  • Discuss progress, challenges, and roadblocks
  • Provide support, guidance, and coaching
  • Identify needs and provide resources
  • Build accountability

In general, your report should create and own the agenda and share it with you prior to the meeting. However, for topics like career growth, you should run the agenda and collaborate together on what to discuss. You may not need to discuss each of the topics below in every meeting.

This guide is meant to outline the breadth of topics that can be covered in 1:1s, but it’s up to you and your report to decide which topics are most important to cover each meeting.


If your company is >~15 people, schedule 60min weekly. Adjust cadence and length as needed over time to best fit your report’s, the company’s, and your own needs.

New reporting relationships

Use your first 1:1 to talk about how to make these meetings as effective and high impact as possible. Discuss:

  • Purpose & goals of 1:1s.
  • Frequency and length.
  • Who owns the agenda? Use an ongoing doc or tool to manage agenda, document what was discussed, and capture action items and follow-ups.
  • What 1:1 framework you’ll use (see below for ideas). Decide what to test together and how to iterate over time to find what works best.
  • Create a career growth plan. Check in monthly or quarterly on progress / plans and to identify how you can support your report’s career growth.
  • Apply past learnings. Ask new reports what has worked well / hasn’t worked well in 1:1s with previous managers. Apply these learnings to your 1:1 framework.

1:1 Framework


A check-in builds connection and encourages open communication.

One check-in I use often is the Stoplight Check-in. Each person shares how they’re feeling using the following scale: Green, Yellow, or Red. Include both work and personal context.


  • “I’m a Green today. The Sales meeting went great yesterday, and I’m feeling proud of how the team worked together to make it happen”
  • “I’m a Yellow today. This week’s sprint is on track and we’re making a lot of progress. But, personally I’m fighting off a cold and feeling low energy”
  • “I’m Red today. I’m really overwhelmed and not sure how to prioritize my projects. I’m getting a ton of requests coming in, and don’t know how to handle those and still deliver on our goals”

Performance & goals / metrics reporting

Use the ‘PPP’ framework to discuss goals / metrics (KPIs, OKRs, etc) and projects.

  • Progress: What progress was made this week? What’s going well?
  • Problems: What problems did you run into?
  • Plans: What are your plans to address the problems & take next steps? Where do you need support?

Wins & challenges

Discuss the following questions together. Topics for wins and challenges may include: goals, projects, leadership & management, relationships (manager, peer, report, cross-team), culture, personal, etc.

  • What were your top 2–3 wins this week?
  • What feels top of mind for you? What are your highest priorities this week?
  • Where are you feeling stuck? What do you need in order to get unstuck?

Career and interpersonal development

Check in monthly or quarterly on your report’s career and interpersonal growth. Revisit the career growth plan you created together at the start of the relationship. Use the PPP framework (see above) to discuss and adjust for the next month or quarter. Use these questions to guide discussion:

  • What skills are you currently working on?
  • What actions are you taking to develop these skills?
  • How can I support your learning and growth?
  • What information and / or resources do you need to support this growth?


Ask your report to share feedback with you on how you’re doing as a manager. If you notice hesitation to share feedback with you, make it a requirement to share one piece of feedback each week, either positive or constructive. As they get more comfortable sharing feedback, shift to requiring at least one piece of constructive feedback each week. Make sure to express openness, curiosity, and appreciation for all feedback they share with you. Ask questions like:

  • What feedback do you have for me?
  • What can I start doing, keep doing, and stop doing to better support you?
  • What is one thing you’ve hesitated to share with me recently?

Wrap-up & action items

Discuss together:

  • Next week will be successful if…
  • You can support me in that by…

What action items do each of us have leaving the meeting? Make clear commitments.

  • What is the action?
  • Who is the owner?
  • When is it due?
  • How will we follow up?

Things to keep in mind

Topics should be balanced across goals & strategy (not just fighting fires), wins & challenges, individual / career growth, team, and interpersonal improvement.

If you’re having trouble getting discussion going, here ask a starter question:

  • What’s one thing that you’re happy about, worried about, and frustrated by right now? Share one of each.
  • What’s one thing each we should continue, start, and stop doing? Can be for any topic, e.g — related to tasks, goals, metrics, processes or systems, interpersonal / relationships, etc.



Lauren Adelle Coaching

Executive Coach for startup founders, execs & investors. Background in Counseling Psychology & VC. Outgoing introvert. laurenadellecoaching.com