How to Stop Wasting Time in One-on-Ones

Unfocused spontaneity ends in triviality.

A squirrel on steroids chases every nut, but gets none.

Schedule things that matter most or things that matter least will replace them.

Don’t spend a little time doing a lot of things.

Stop wasting time in one-on-ones:

Don’t wing it. Plan it.

Send a discussion question the day before your one-on-one that focuses on development and growth.

Questions for one-on-ones:                                                                                         

  1. What’s on your agenda this week that matters most to you?
  2. What are your top five commitments this week?
  3. What situations would you like to improve?
  4. What recurring frustrations or problems would you like to improve?
  5. Where are the points of positive energy on your team? What’s happening in those areas?
  6. How might you fuel energy on your team?
  7. How can we make our company a place where you love coming to work?
  8. What is your contribution to the emotional atmosphere of your team/organization? How would you like to contribute?
  9. What are we doing that holds us back? How might we change that?
  10. What are you doing that holds you back? How might you move forward?
  11. What one thing could I/you do to make your work experience more enjoyable and productive?
  12. What happens on your best days at work? What could we do to increase your number of “best” days?

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” Stephen R. Covey.


I’m a huge fan of spontaneity, but spontaneity is not an excuse for lack of preparation.

Planned spontaneity is better than winging it.

An agenda gives potential to spontaneity.

What makes a one-on-one a great use of time?

What would you like to discuss with your boss in your next one-on-one?


24 tips to have more effective one-on-ones (Soapbox)

How to Make Your One-on-Ones with Employees More Productive (HBR)

Meaningful Engagement: Making Your One-on-Ones Matter (Indeed)