Best ways for establishing employee development through one-on-ones

employee development

Majority of the successful leaders have one thing in common  – they prioritize employee development and utilize one-on-one meetings for doing so. In the midst of hectic working hours, having regular one-on-ones with your direct reports can often go a long way in establishing well-developed employees and teams in your organization. 

employee development

Your employees are absolutely your focus, strength, and biggest assets. They join your organization with the vision of achieving personal objectives and growing professionally in their respective careers. As a leader, it is you who are primarily responsible for not only leading them but also for initiating the procedure of employee development. However, you have to ensure that these regular opportunities for connecting with the employees should not be solely focused on criticizing what all took place in the past, responding to the present, and gaining updates. These one-on-ones should also be used for addressing the future – related to the interests of the employees, their career growth, development programs, and how their hopes align with the organizational vision and mission. 

Setting aside time for talking about employee growth during one-on-ones might need some advance planning but it’s gonna be well worth all the effort. A study done by Gallup confirms that leaders and managers are responsible for almost 70% of the variance in their employee development and engagement. When done right, these regular conversations lead to bolstering employee engagement, retention, and success. Moreover, one-on-ones lay the foundation for superior-performing teams. 

As elaborated above, one-on-ones provided prime prospects for employee development. Below we look at a couple of effective ways through which you can foster your employee’s skills and growth during those one-on-one sessions:

1. Allow your employees to lead

Leaders and managers often make the mistake of using one-on-ones as a prospect for offering monologue. However, this approach ultimately proves to be highly ineffective. Instead, you should allow your employees to set the tone for these virtual or in-person one-on-ones themselves. Show your employees that you trust them enough to know what they need to do for performing their duties effectively – whether it’s help for a project, a new certification, or any such development opportunities – by allowing them to set the meeting’s agenda and direct the points for discussions. It’s the opportunity for you to turn the tables and empower your employees to come up with the priorities that are of utmost importance to them. 

2. Promote self-awareness

It is not necessary that each of your employees will have a plan for their future. You and your managers can help your employees to get more contemplative by asking them the right set of questions. The questions could cover things such as where your employees are now in terms of developing their performance capabilities, what their strengths and weakness have been, and how they can develop further in their respective careers. From here the employees can initiate mapping out their career intent. The employees will feel engaged when they are allowed to share their opinions in terms of their development, versus someone pressuring them to develop in a specific area. 

3. Promote a focused discussion

You and your managers can opt for filling out a meeting template or questionnaire that can help you to direct the conversation during the one-on-ones. It is recommended to opt for open-ended questions rather than the ones that require just a yes or a no form of an answer. Such type of open-ended questions will help in covering the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of employees, their achievements, and any other obstacle or challenge that they come across. It will give you a clear picture of what can make your employee dissatisfied and what can make them excited about their job. You and your employees can compare to see if there’s an alignment or misalignment between the vision of the employee and the organization. Then together you can develop an action plan to tackle the problem. 

4. Pay attention to their well-being

Your employees may be getting all of their daily tasks done effectively but it doesn’t give any clarity regarding their well-being. This is why it is extremely crucial for you to make time during one-on-one sessions for addressing the well-being of your employees at the personal level. Ask your employees whether they feel that they are assigned the toughest projects among their team members? Do they feel that they have been given the highest deadlines? If so, there are high chances that they might be stressed out and you should address their workload to ensure that their development is not hindered. 

5. Challenge your biases

Leaders often enter one-on-one conversations with blinders on. For instance, you might think that your junior employee might be just like you during your 20s – eager to lead a team. In reality, that employee might be more excited to grow and become an expert in their respective field and have no desire whatsoever to ever become a team leader. Make sure you do not let such biases and projections make these recurring meetings difficult. So, just let your employee drive the conversation so that you or your manager don’t influence the career goal of the employee. The goal of this check-in must be to ensure that the vision and mission of the employee are well aligned with the organization

Employee development is a crucial aspect of all organizations. Focusing on the development of your employees will enhance the rate of engagement, retention, and productivity of your workforce. For more assistance regarding employee development, make sure to contact us! 

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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