Research has shown that managers play a critical role in impacting organizational connection, culture, and employee well-being. And one of the best ways for managers to positively exercise their influence is by holding regular 1-on-1 meetings with team members.

What is a 1-on-1? And how is it different from a regular work meeting?

A 1-on-1 is a meeting between a manager and an individual team member that focuses solely on well-being, connection, and development, while regular work meetings focus on work-based items, like upcoming tasks, strategies, and projects.

To consistently conduct effective 1-on-1 meetings with your team, we recommend taking the following steps:

Step 1: Start holding recurring 1-on-1 meetings with your people

We recommend holding weekly 1-on-1 meetings with your people. Individual well-being can change in a flash, so making these meetings a regular and frequent occurrence will allow you to do the most good.

Step 2: Put your focus where it counts

When deciding what to talk about in your 1-on-1 meetings, consider the following:

  1. Don’t talk about work projects.
  2. Do talk about the following things:
  • Career development
  • Personal Goals
  • Emotional well-being
  • How you can support your individual team members
  • Available well-being resources (Keep in mind that as a manager you do not have to do the heavy lifting here. Let the pros do that by referring individuals out to available EAP contacts if your organization has access to them.)

If you are a Blunovus partner, your managers and employees gain 24/7 access to the Care Center, where they can receive micro-coaching and connect to trained professionals for more in-depth support.

Step 3: Introduce the following questions and tips into the conversation when you feel ready


Questions you can ask in 1-on-1 meetings:

  • “On a scale from 1-5, where would you rate your emotional well-being?” Make sure you go first to build rapport. Be real, genuine, and as personal as you are comfortable being. Say why you rated yourself the way you did.
  • “What’s been on your mind this past week?” This question will set the stage for the individual you’re meeting with to open up about what matters most to them at the moment, including what things they may be concerned or excited about.
  • Ask your people when they are planning on taking PTO. Get curious about what they are planning on doing for that time off. This sends a message that you care about them as a person and want them to get the rest they need.
  • Ask about books or podcasts your employee is currently reading or listening to. Show genuine interest in what they say. This will help you connect with them on a deeper level.


Tips for creating greater connection and well-being in 1-on-1 meetings:

Be appropriately open about your history and be curious about theirs. Everyone has a story to tell about how they got where they are. As you learn more about each other’s history, you will understand one another more fully. This greater understanding will help you connect more deeply and know how to best serve your people.

Find out what problems they are facing and how you can help.
Everyone struggles from time to time. Directly ask about anything they may be facing and make it known that you’re there to help in whatever way your position allows. This is also a great time to be an empathetic and patient leader, which will further build trust.

Encourage vulnerability. Create psychological safety with your team members by being vulnerable about your own experiences and by supporting your team when they are vulnerable. Let people know they are encouraged to speak up about disagreements and elephants in the room. When people feel safe to openly express their opinions and thoughts, you create an environment that supports rapid growth and innovation.

Let people know you appreciate their contribution. A little gratitude can go a long way, especially when your team is working hard. Making a genuine effort to recognize people for their effort and contribution will help people feel valued and encouraged to continue doing great work. Make a goal to appreciate each team member in a meaningful way once a week.

Open up about your failures and what they have taught you. Opening up about failures and mistakes will help you create a culture that supports trying new things and innovating. Failure and mistakes are a natural part of real progress, and when you focus on these experiences as learning opportunities with real examples, you will create an environment that supports continuous learning and vulnerability.

Be a champion of progress. As your team members progress and find success -no matter how small- it’s your responsibility to celebrate and encourage them. This will help your team feel appreciated and inspired to continue moving forward with their best effort.

Encourage and support autonomy if work items come up. Help your team members feel a sense of freedom in their work by moving away from instructing them on exactly what to do, and instead, ask questions that help people get their own clarity on the actions they should take at work (e.g. Ask, “What do you think you should do?”).

Be fully present with your people. When communicating with your team members, make it a point to really listen and understand them. Don’t let yourself get caught up in your thoughts during conversations. Refrain from thinking about what to say next while the individual is speaking and avoid giving unsolicited advice. Doing so will help you create deeper connections while gaining the collective insights available to you and your team members.

Let your team members help you with your challenges. Opening up and giving your teammates an opportunity to help you will humanize your connection and provide you with support and insight that wouldn’t be available to you on your own.

Step 4: Be consistent

By implementing these questions and tips in your 1-on-1 meetings consistently, you’ll begin to see your relationships with your team members progress and improve. Keep experimenting and do what works for you. Remember that it takes time to build trust and for people to feel comfortable opening up.

Your employees spend hundreds of hours working with you as a manager, and they deserve to have a good relationship with you. It impacts their mental health and emotional well-being more than you might anticipate.

If you’re a current VEST member looking for more ideas on how to improve your relationship with your people as a manager or would like micro-coaching around implementing the tips mentioned above, reach out to the Care Center through the Blunovus app.


If you’re a VEST member struggling with anything, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Care Center for support!

You can find access to the Care center by downloading the VEST Care app and entering your organization code. Email us or talk to your HR department to get this code if you don’t already have it.

If you have any questions about how VEST can help you improve your culture and provide your employees with the emotional resources they need through our Proactive-EAP, don’t hesitate to contact us at (866) 258-6688 or go@vesteap.com.

We are here to help!

Disclaimer: VEST content is not therapy and is not designed to diagnose or treat any condition you may be experiencing. Please contact a medical or mental health professional for treatment that is specific to your needs.