Is it Time to Replace One-On-Ones with Three-On-Ones

Leaders say teamwork is important, but spend most of their development-time working with individuals. Isn’t that inconsistent? Could three-on-ones be more effective than one-on-ones?

Most one-on-one conversations would be better with teammates in the room.


Development conversations happen with a wider audience. Team members know what fellow teammates are working to develop. Transparency strengthens connection and commitment.

Distributed accountability fuels progress. Open conversations about personal development give people an opportunity to participate in each other’s growth. Suppose two team members know that Mary is working on curiosity. I imagine Mary giving her teammates permission to ask her about progress. “Hey Mary, how are you doing with asking two questions before making one statement?”

Delegating conversations become more collaborative with others in the room. They say three heads are better than one. Additionally, it’s healthy for others to know the projects you’re working on.

Daily high-five moments become possible. A pat on the back lets others know their progress matters. If three others know what you’re working on, they have the opportunity to acknowledge your progress.


What about privacy? Some conversations need to be private. Yes, but how many?

If an employee constantly needs private one-on-ones, there are deeper issues. Maybe you’re creating dependency. It could be that you’re dealing with issues outside your skill-set.

Will people be open or honest if others are in the room? Lack of trust, candor, and transparency is problematic. They should be developed. We need to learn how to be honest with optimism, rather than protective and isolated. 

Trust, candor, and transparency are essential for fulfillment and success.

Introverts might struggle. How might three-on-ones be made more comfortable for introverts? 

Navigating schedules is more difficult.


What are the pros and cons of replacing most one-on-ones with three-on-ones?

Note: Maybe this is a dumb idea. I still plan to use one-on-ones, but I’m wondering about the usefulness of adding three-on-ones to the mix. What are your thoughts?