Top 7 Mistakes To Avoid in a 1-on-1 meeting

Srihari Udugani
5 min readJan 26, 2023
Mistakes to Avoid in 1-on-1 meeting

Many young managers are told to conduct regular 1-on-1 to connect with the team members.

If the 1-on-1 is not done right then the managers will end up creating chaos, confusion, irritation and many other things among the team members.

Here are the top 7 mistakes to avoid while conducting 1-on-1 with your direct reportees.

#1 Don’t make 1-on-1 as a monthly review meeting

The 1-on-1 meetings should be at regular intervals. That means that these meetings should be conducted at minimum once in 2 weeks.

Anything more than this then it is not a 1-on-1 meeting. It will be just a discussion which may not carry same value as 1-on-1.

So don’t make the mistake of having 1-on-1 meeting monthly or bimonthly to connect with your direct reporting team members.

#2 Don’t use 1-on-1 as another project review meeting

1-on-1 meeting should cover not only project reviews, it should also be used to cover the goals, challenges, concerns of the team members.

So avoid the mistake of conducting 1-on-1 as another project review meeting. Talk about concerns, challenges that the team member would be facing. And also provide feedback both positive or negative if the need arise.

Without covering all of the aspects, the effective usage of 1-on-1 will be lost. This will lead to waste of time for you and team member.

#3 Don’t commit to something which you are not sure about

Many young manager commit to few requests from team members without thinking whether they can actually make it happen.

The reason behind this is, young manager are under false assumption, that if they say no to requests from team members, then they will loose the control over the team member.

This must be avoided.

If you commit to something and unable to make it happen, then the team member will loose trust on you and they even may decide to move out of the organisation.

When such a situation arise, then respond that you will check, confirm from the relevant stakeholders and inform about it in any of the upcoming 1-on-1. But don’t commit unless you are 200% sure about it.

#4 Don’t appreciate the team member just for the sake of it

Many young manager make mistake of appreciating team members repeatedly for the same thing.

They don’t realise that doing so will set an impression that you don’t have any other topic so to spend time, you are doing it over and over again. This shows that you are not serious about 1-on-1s.

If there are no topics, it is okay to end the 1-on-1 meeting early. There are times when I have ended 1-on-1 meeting within just 10 minutes.

Appreciating about something over and over again will not help in anyway, so avoid doing it.

#5 Don’t say something for the sake of impressing your team member

Many young manager tend to impress their team members by saying about something which is not true.

This generally happens when the 1-on-1 goes bad. To make sure the meeting ends in a positive note, managers tend to make up something that is not true or partially true.

There is no point in doing this. It makes you a joker in front of your team members as they can make out that you are lying.

So, avoid saying something that is not true and don’t make up something to cheer up the team member if the 1-on-1 meeting goes bad.

In such a scenario, allow the team members to digest the information, and set up a follow up meeting after few days to conclude. This shows you are serious about such interaction and you care about the well being of your team members.

#6 Don’t ask personal questions until unless it is necessary

In some of the trainings and YouTube videos, there is a suggestion that managers should connect with team members at personal level.

So some young managers assume that every time they should ask about the personal life of team members. The 1-on-1 meeting starts with question like “how is your wife doing?” “how is your date last month?” and so on. This is utter stupidity.

It is okay to ask once in a while or when you have been informed by the team member.

If you truly want to ask about it, then ask in a generic way, like “how are you doing personally with so much of pressure at work?”.

The personal question should be in context of work. That is the right way to connect with your team members at personal level.

#7 Don’t always decide the agenda for the 1-on-1 meeting

This is one of the biggest mistake that young managers do.

The 1-on-1 meeting is for your team members to talk about things that needs attention or resolution or share how they are feeling or clarify their doubts. Also it is for you to check how things are going with your team member and how are they progressing in the assigned activities.

If there is no balance in the agenda for both of you to talk about topics, then it will be one sided.

If you want to talk about something specific, then don’t call it as 1-on-1. It should be called as either “sync up” or “discussion on specific topic”. This kind of meeting should be different from 1-on-1.

The 1-on-1 meeting should cover topics from both sides.

The 1-on-1 meeting is one of the powerful tool for managers to keep pulse check on team members and help them to go in the right direction.

For effective usage of 1-on-1 meeting, avoid making the above mistakes.

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Srihari Udugani

Knowledge Made Simple and Structured, Decisions Made Clear. Happy success!