Why Easy 1-on-1s works

Easy 1-on-1s bases each 1-on-1 on a set of structured discussion notes, and makes the weekly routine easy to build good habits around.

Read on to find out why this can be relied upon to save you time, empower your team members, and help you get more done.


1-on-1 meetings are a commonly used management tool. When done well they become the most valuable meeting of the work week - an opportunity to connect, review the past week, and collaboratively come up with a plan to solve the trickiest problems.

However when done poorly they can consume a lot of your time and put team members under unnecessary stress, without delivering any clear benefits.

Most commonly this happens because the meeting lacks structure, does not cover the right topics, or is not held consistently. These problems are linked.

  • An unstructured meeting will be inefficient and not allow enough time to get to the most important topics.
  • If these topics aren't discussed, what remains is a meandering conversation that both participants get little value from.
  • If the participants aren't getting value from a meeting, they will postpone or cancel meetings whenever they can.
  • When 1-on-1s aren't conducted at a regular weekly interval, the feedback loop is stretched out, further reducing the value of the meeting.

It becomes a vicious cycle that can result in 1-on-1s being seen as a waste of time by everyone in an organisation.

Easy 1-on-1s prevents this cycle from taking hold by:

  • Using structured discussion notes - so that the 1-on-1 discussion is efficient, focused on the most important topics, and systematically overcomes barriers to progress
  • Making the 1-on-1 routine easy to follow - so that the routine is "stickier" and more likely to become a productive habit for you and your team

Together, these two principals set up a self-reinforcing cycle. When both participants find their 1-on-1 meeting quick, easy, and valuable (see below), they will make sure it happens each week. Sticking to this consistent weekly routine further increases the speed, ease, and value of the 1-on-1 meeting until it becomes an ingrained habit.

Read on to explore why these two principals are so effective.

Note: What makes a meeting valuable?

In the context of this article, a valuable meeting is one that helps all participants do their job more effectively, more efficiently, and more enjoyably.

For example, a manager may find a meeting valuable when they are able to:

  • Identify and respond to a new issue that impacts their team's KPIs
  • Understand what support, decisions, or resources their team needs to complete their tasks within an agreed timeframe
  • Eliminate unnecessary work for their team

Likewise, a team member may find a meeting valuable when they are able to:

  • Agree with their manager on a clear set of priorities for the coming week
  • Communicate (and get assistance with) issues, blockers, and external factors that impact their ability to do their job, but are outside of their control
  • Receive honest feedback on recently completed work

Principal 1 : Structured discussion notes

As the first step of the Easy 1-on-1s method, team members are asked to write structured discussion notes.

It's an important step, and one that we've put a lot of thought into getting right. In fact, the value gained from the 1-on-1 meeting largely depends on how well the discussion notes are written.

  • Empowering the team - When writing the notes, the team member gets an opportunity to reflect on the past week, and to prepare their own plan in response to the successes, challenges, and issues they've observed
  • Saving time - When reviewing the notes, the manager can quickly understand the status of the their team's work, and the challenges they currently face. These topics don't need to be spoken about in the 1-on-1 - it's boring to talk about things that everyone already knows about - freeing up time to for the contentious or poorly understood topics that warrant a deeper discussion
  • Getting more done - When discussing the notes, the team member and manager can jointly agree on the actions required to overcome the current barriers to progress.

There is an art to writing these discussion notes well. However Easy 1-on-1s users are not on their own. Users are provided with a template to fill out, prompts for each section, and additional tips to help you write better discussion notes each week.

Once users have followed the Easy 1-on-1s prompts and completed the template, they'll have written discussion notes with the following contents:

  • Headlines - A few dot points summarising the Successes and Challenges of the week just gone, and the identified Blockers, Priorities, and Requests for Help in the week ahead. These are the main discussion points for your 1-on-1.
  • Metrics - Actuals, forecasts, and long-term targets for a few metrics that have been hand selected to provide useful and actionable insights into where to prioritise your efforts, and to provide clues as to whether your efforts are having the desired effect.
  • Tasks - A proposed set of specific and well-defined tasks you are planning to complete or coordinate over the coming week, and an update on the actions agreed in the previous week.
  • Dependencies - A brief assessment of the colleagues, contractors, and other resources relied upon to do your job well.

You can familiarise yourself with a completed set of discussion notes here.

Each of these sections should be tightly linked. For example:

  • A potential Blocker identified in the following week might have a Request for Help to resolve it.
  • An incomplete Task from last week will carry over into next week's Tasks, so that critical work doesn't get dropped.
  • A KPI Actual that unexpectedly came in below forecast might by explained by a Challenge and addressed by a Priority in the following week to reduce the risk of it happening again.

Each week, previously agreed actions are followed up, any dips in performance are understood and acted upon, and issues and concerns are addressed as soon as they are identified. This systematic approach is why the Easy 1-on-1s method can overcome the five barriers to productivity, and help you and your team get more done.

Principal 2: Making the 1-on-1s routine easy

If the process is too hard to follow, the structure of the discussion notes is not relevant. People just won't stick to the routine.

From day one, we've designed the Easy 1-on-1s web app to make it as easy as possible for your team to build good habits around the weekly 1-on-1 routine.

Easy to learn

The structure described above can take a bit of practice to do well. Users of Easy 1-on-1s aren't just thrown in the deep end. User-friendly help and guidance is available throughout Easy 1-on-1s in various formats.

  • Quick start guide - A one page cheat sheet that explains how to follow the Easy 1-on-1s routine and how to use the Easy 1-on-1s web app.
  • Preparation Coach - Step-by-step prompts help users prepare insightful notes to discuss in the 1-on-1 meeting. The discussion notes are also temporarily re-ordered in a way that makes it easier to write a succinct and complete summary.
  • Help pull-out panel - Context aware tips and tricks are available via the Help pull-out panel on each screen, to coach best-practice use of Easy 1-on-1s.

If further assistance is required, Easy 1-on-1s also makes it easy to share your 1-on-1 discussion notes with a third-party observer or a business improvement coach.

Easy to use

Working through the weekly 1-on-1 routine is not a chore with Easy 1-on-1s.

The software is convenient, snappy, predictable, and easy to navigate.

Templates are pre-populated where possible, data entry is minimised, and the principals of good design are employed throughout. All with the goal of reducing the time it takes to prepare the discussion notes.

Click here to preview some of the features that make Easy 1-on-1s so convenient and easy to use.

Easy to scale

It takes just seconds to invite a colleague to Easy 1-on-1s, with nothing more than their name and email address. And every new user is granted a free trial period, during which they can then take advantage of the learning material mentioned above to immediately start having efficient and effective 1-on-1s within their teams.

As more people in your organisation start using Easy 1-on-1s, the process becomes more effective for everyone. For example, priorities can be coordinated across teams, and issues requiring senior input can be systematically escalated.

Additionally, Easy 1-on-1s includes reports to identify users that are having trouble with parts of the routine, so that you can allocate support resources as required.


Easy 1-on-1s addresses the issues commonly encountered with 1-on-1 meetings, and can be relied upon to save you time, empower your staff, and help you get more done by:

  • Using structured discussion notes - so that the 1-on-1 discussion is efficient, focused on the most important topics, and systematically overcomes barriers to progress
  • Making the 1-on-1 routine easy to follow - so that the routine is "stickier" and more likely to become a productive habit for you and your team

Want to learn more about Easy 1-on-1s?