One Leader’s Surprising Experience with One-on-Ones

One of my coaching clients is developing his skill at holding one-on-ones with his management team. He’s learning you don’t have to choose between strong relationships and great results. 

Strong relationships fuel great results.

He’s working to:

  1. Begin interactions with a relational touch. Briefly postpone problem solving. Greet people personally. He cares for his team, but he gets consumed with day-to-day concerns. He said in the past he would dive right in. Now he’s working to begin with the person.
  2. Relax and be present, rather than distracted, during interactions. Distraction is easy when you’re great at solving problems and delivering results. If you aren’t careful, people end up low on your priority list. One tip is watch your body language. Are you sending the message that you can’t wait to move on?
  3. Schedule one-on-ones at appropriate times. My client prefers mid-afternoon. He likes to clear his mind by dealing with pressing issues in the morning.
  4. Follow up with people. When an issue or project comes up during a one-on-one, make a note to follow-up with them in a couple days. “How’s that going?”
  5. Spontaneously take people to lunch. Don’t set an agenda. Just have lunch and conversation.


The first surprise he notices is that strengthening relationships improves openness. His managers asked him to get feedback for them. They want him to talk to the members of their team.

Imagine a manager who asks their boss to seek feedback from their team for them. 

Motivated managers want to know how they’re doing. When you build relationships with your managers, you make it safe for them to seek feedback from their team.

The second surprise he notices is that he’s more approachable. People come up to him when they see him walking through the plant.

What’s important about successful one-on-ones?

How might leaders strengthen relationships with team members?

Afterword: Even though he’s spending more time in one-on-ones, things are still getting done!