10 tips for successful one-on-one meetings in a remote world

By Keather Snyder, Chief Revenue Officer, The Omnia Group

It’s no longer news that the pandemic turned businesses upside down. Close-knit departments are now spread across cities. Teamwork is a more complex challenge today as managers try to connect employees and the tasks at hand. To be a successful manager, holding productive one-on-one meetings is crucial in this remote world. Explore these 10 tips for empowering your employees through the virtual world.

1. Strive for Regular Meetings

Casual encounters in the break room or hallways don’t happen anymore as employees remain remote. One-on-one meetings should cover both professional and personal needs in a cohesive package. Ideally, set up regular meetings once a week or every other week depending on staff size. This schedule balances the need to speak with your employees and allows them to be productive otherwise. In contrast, daily meetings will only impede work productivity and create micromanaging situations that disengage many workers. If you need to spread them out to once per month because of larger staff size, regular team meetings will help fill the gap for communication and cohesion.

2. Update Tech Settings

Whether you have two or 50 employees to manage, each meeting must go as smoothly as possible. Dealing with technology issues during the meeting takes away from its overall benefits. Be sure to update any settings in the video-conferencing software that’s in use. Send out email reminders to your employees if there’s an update that’s necessary on their end. Speak with your IT department if complex issues arise. Today’s workforce depends on virtual platforms, so they should be updated as much as possible.

3. Set an Agenda Beforehand

Successful one-on-one meetings are two-way streets. Both parties must give and take. As a common courtesy, let the employee know the meeting’s details beforehand. A rough outline emailed a few days before the meeting is sufficient. As a result, the employee has a chance to prepare for the meeting so that it’s as productive as possible. Of course, small items may be added in as necessary, but most of the subjects to be covered should be listed in the initial email. This is especially valuable when working with introverts and highly structured employees. Often, these valuable players can feel uncomfortable if they don’t have time to assess the meeting’s purpose beforehand, while big-picture thinkers are much more comfortable rolling through unfamiliar terrain.

Individuals with a tall column 4 and 8 on the Omnia Assessment (analytical and detailed) are going to be much more engaged and vocal if you give them time to plan their talking points. Those with a tall column 3 and 7 (social and independent) are more inclined to appreciate a surprise call. The power of behavioral insight is your ultimate advantage for engaging people.

4. Be Punctual Yet Flexible

Set a timer for about 15 minutes before the meeting’s scheduled time. Send a chat reminder to the employee about the meeting. This courtesy allows you both to touch base before the actual discussion. In most cases, the employee will be ready to meet at the proper time.

Be flexible if the scheduled time must be put off for another five or 10 minutes. The employee may want to complete a project before stepping away, for instance. Methodically paced employees have a strong need to finish one thing before starting another. Or, you may be managing a team of customer service representatives who are routinely tied up talking to a customer, which would clearly be a priority. Being flexible creates a strong relationship with the employee while sticking to a rough meeting schedule.

5. Remain Productive

When the meeting does begin, try to stay on task. Work through the agenda. There should always be room for questions and slight tangents off the subject but largely remain on the listed items. You’ll maintain productivity for both yourself and the employee with this strategy.

The employee benefits by knowing exactly what’s to be covered in the meeting. He or she can offer their own suggestions for the next meeting too. This back-and-forth process makes each meeting better than the last.

6. Connect on a Personal Level

Most remote workers are at home most of the time. Everyone has different feelings about the isolation from coworkers. During these weekly meetings, it’s important for managers to connect with employees on a personal level at times. Talk about a few items that aren’t work related, from sports teams to family life. The conversation will tell you if the employee is happy or frustrated with the remote position. Discussing any issues might help everyone work and thrive together in a virtual world.

7. Maintain Accountability

Working remotely can be difficult for some people. Being an empathetic manager is crucial as all employees acclimate to their situations. However, accountability should be a part of your weekly discussions. If a mistake is clearly a person’s fault, it should be discussed and corrected so that it doesn’t occur again. Employees who hold themselves accountable will improve over time.

8. Discuss Short- and Long-Term Deadlines

Productive meetings include a look at both short- and long-term deadlines. Discuss the deadlines that are arriving within the next week. Ask if the deadlines are reasonable. Compromise on some dates and times so that the work can be completed with quality results.

Go over the deadlines that will be coming in the next month or so. The employee will have a chance to look at the projects and start them whenever necessary. Putting the power in employee hands encourages strong virtual work habits.

9. Encourage Feedback

These meetings should never be one-sided speeches from the manager’s perspective. Encourage feedback from the employee. Ask for opinions about a project, deadline or task. Because employees see the inner workings of their tasks every day, they might have an insight that’s missed by managers. Take this feedback seriously and see if it can solve any problems in the department. Small changes suggested by hardworking employees improve productivity on several levels.

10. End on a High Note

Some meetings will inevitably have serious undertones, such as missed deadlines or project mistakes. As a manager, steer the conversation’s end to a positive note. Congratulate the employee on areas of excellence. Keep the discussion light with banter too. By ending on a high note, the employee can take all the discussion points and apply them as necessary. Rising to the challenge might be the goal of the day after a quality, one-on-one meeting.

Working remotely could remain the norm for many organizations even after COVID-19 has been controlled through vaccinations or other means. Use these remote tips now and into the future. They’ll only strengthen your managerial skills in the long run. Whether you’re meeting in person or through the computer screen, managing a stellar group of employees gets easier with experience and knowledge about the internal motivators of those on your team.


Keather Snyder, Chief Revenue Officer at The Omnia Group, a leader in helping organizations improve and optimize their talent selection, development and company culture. Keather is a results-oriented leader with a track record of guiding organizations in cultivating the employee experience, engaging clients and executing sales plans to exceed business targets. Prior to joining Omnia, Keather was with Bersin by Deloitte leading their worldwide sales and client success team. There, she was a prominent speaker and workshop facilitator presenting on the “Future of Work” and Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends research. She continues to speak at conferences, universities and client events globally. Keather is also hugely passionate about developing our future generation of employees and dedicates personal time to mentoring school age and early career professionals. For more information, email [email protected] or call 800.525.7117.