Coda doc by Jessica Powell
One-on-One Template by Jessica Powell
Run an effective one-on-one meeting with your direct report. This template contains an agenda and goals your direct report can create and email out ahead of the meeting.
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About this doc

This template is designed to:

  1. Make clear both manager and employee expectations
  2. Provide structure and focus for the 1:1 by setting an agenda
  3. Ensure that the employee’s day-to-day work, which will be covered in this meeting, continues to map to the employee’s overall goals.

It also makes it easy to generate an agenda that the employee can send to their manager. Take what you like, reject what you don’t! You can edit the template to make it work for you.

I share more thoughts about 1:1s and how to make them work for you here.

Importance of One-on-Ones

1:1s are a really important component of any successful employee-manager relationship. But too often they aren’t well thought out, or sufficiently customized to the individual employee’s needs. In addition, it’s really easyーparticularly when there’s no meeting agendaーfor both employee and manager to lose sight of longer-term goals, and instead over-prioritize short-term issues.

I don’t have a hard and fast rule for how to run 1:1s because I think the most important thing is that the 1:1 be useful to the individual employee. That said, I think there is a basic framework you can use when thinking about 1:1s.

Setting Expectations

As mentioned in my Medium post:

Before you dive in, set some expectations. Ask your employee what they hope to get out of your meetings, and how you can be most helpful to them. If there are things that you need from the meeting–for example, a regular update on a special project for the CEO–then make it clear that you’d like to hear about that every week. Similarly, if you prefer a specific kind of structure–like you always want an agenda or to receive presentations in advance–flag that at the start.

What type of expectations should you and your direct report state up front? Here are some ideas:

  • What the direct report hopes to get out of the 1:1s
  • Personal commitments
  • Working styles

Since this Coda doc contains multiple sections, I dedicated one section (Your Partnership: 1:1 Expectations) for you and your direct report to dictate the “rules of the road.” This way, both of you can go back to this section in the future to see the 1:1 expectations without opening a separate doc. You’re also going to see a small table that allows you to fill in you and your manager’s email.

Fill in your e-mail (if you are the direct report) and your manager’s e-mail since you’ll able to automatically email out the 1:1 agenda before the meeting starts. More on that in the next paragraph.

Creating a 1:1 Agenda

This is probably the most important part of this doc.

Since the 1:1 is to help your direct report, he or she can fill out the Active Agenda before the meeting takes place. Here are the main sections he or she should fill out in the agenda:

  1. Updates to Goals - Your direct report can log their weekly updates on their goals (defined in Goals)
  2. Sentiment - A simple dropdown on how you’re feeling.
  3. Topics for Discussion - Topics your direct report would like to discuss
  4. Notes - Any additional notes

The best part about this agenda is that your direct report can hook up their Gmail with this doc (using the Gmail Pack) and click a button to email you (the manager) and CC him or herself on the e-mail with the entire agenda in the body of the e-mail. This way both of you will have a record of what topics to discuss and any pre-reading required ahead of the 1:1.

Once the 1:1 is over, copy and paste the agenda into Past Agendas so you two will always have a record of previous meetings! Just to recap:

  • Active Agenda - Use only for the current meeting
  • Past Agendas - Previous 1:1 meeting notes copied/pasted from the Active Agenda section

Goal Setting

The final section in this doc is the Goals section. This section contains the longer-term goals your direct report is working towards, but can be referenced (even if just as a quick reminder) at every 1:1 meeting. Having the goals in the same place as your meeting notes ensures that the manager stays up to date on their direct report’s progress, and gives the direct report an opportunity to share out how they are tracking towards their goals.

In this doc, the Active Agenda will always show the goals your direct report is working towards using a formula in the canvas. You’ll see something like this in the Active Agenda section (example):

  • Increase website conversion by 20%
  • Revamp onboarding flow
  • Complete two manager trainings

In the doc, these bullet points will change dynamically based on what you and your direct report enter in the Goals table. Give it a shot! Try changing some of the data in the Goals table and you’ll see the bullet points above (and in the Active Agenda) change dynamically!

About the Maker

Jessica Powell is the CEO of Audioshake. She writes Medium’s work advice column, and is the author of The Big Disruption: A Totally Fictional but Essentially True Silicon Valley Story. Jessica loves thinking through lightweight, flexible processes that can help companies meet their goals–while allowing room for employee preferences and individuality.

Meet Jessica Powell

Music startup co-founder, former VP of Communications @ Google

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Doc building blocks
Jessica Powell built this doc in Coda using these building blocks. Copy this doc to add on or customize as you see fit.
Direct reports can automatically send an email of the agenda and goals to you (the manager) and the direct report with the Gmail Pack.
Direct reports can organize goals and leave notes on those goals every week for you to discuss with your direct report.
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