One-on-One - Best Practices.

Just a decorative image for the page.

My One-on-One Template

Over the years I’ve developed a pretty cool way to run one-on-ones. Well. At least this is what I think about it ;) I usually keep my own one-on-one notes and do not share these notes with my report directly. Many people do this differently and this is also totally fine!

Here’s a description on how to do it. Feedback as usual much appreciated!

My one-on-ones consist of three parts:

  • Continuous Performance Review
  • Health Check
  • Meeting notes of my one-on-ones

Continuous Performance Review

Your organization likely has at least yearly performance review cycles for employees. For you as a manager this means filling out a lengthy form and remembering what happened in the last year. If you start to think about that when the report is due, you’ll mess it up. It will take you a huge amount of time to remember everything, dig into Jira tickets - and you’ll likely run into many biases. Bad.

What is the solution? Continuous performance reviews for the win!

Note down good things of that person and bad&ugly things of that person when they happen. Also make sure you give that feedback as the first thing in the next one-on-one to the person. That way the feedback is always timely and there will almost never be surprises for the person in the yearly performance review. And of course filling out the yearly performance review is just a copy and paste from your one-on-one document.


  • Make sure you can remember what happened in one year from now by using full sentences. Only using a couple of words means something to you now - but in one year from now it will be difficult to remember what really happened.
  • Use NOTYETGIVEN at the beginning of a feedback item to signal that you did not yet tell the person about it
  • Use GIVEN 2023-04-12 at the beginning of a feedback item to mark an item as communicated to the report - and a date when it has been done.

Health Check

This section contains things that you want to improve. Often together with the report or the team of the report. Health checks are fuzzy, but still help you to focus on the top prios.

I use a list with bullet points and a colored █ at the end (Note that █ is grey here, but you can color the UTF symbol easily in Google Docs). “Red” Needs strong improvement. “Orange” is on the way. “Green” is looking good and can be removed from a health check at some point.

You’ll start with a lot of red and orange items and will move them to green over time.


- Collaboration with Sales department RED
- Integration of QA into teams ORANGE
- ...

One-on-one Meeting Notes

That section contains information for the upcoming meeting plus notes of all past meetings. I usually use markdown syntax in case I want to move off Google Docs.

## 2022-xx-xx (upcoming meeting)
- Check whether Tim updated strategy document
- How is collaboration with the Sales department going?

## 2022-04-12
- DONE Is the salary cycle planned.
- DONE discuss quarterly OKRs and rate KPIs


Make Google Docs your superpower

Use Google Docs and simply type in the name of the one-on-one report in the URL bar of your browser. The browser will show the link to the document and you can hit enter to open a new tab. That way it is very efficient to switch to one-on-one notes of a report.

For example when you are talking with Tim and come across a topic for Tom - you can simply jump to the one-on-one document of Tom via the URL bar of chrome and add a remark to the 202x-xx-xx section of the one-on-one document of Tom. This will supercharge your reliability as a manager.

Make things happen and follow up

Write down what you expect from a person into the 202x-xx-xx of the document. That way you’ll never forget to ask about anything you want someone to do. If you discuss an item and the report wants to fix something until next week - then simply add into the upcoming meeting an item “Has xyz been fixed”. No need to remember - you’ll automatically talk about it next time.

Cool. Where is the template?

Simply copy and paste the following and use it as a template for your next one-on-one. Make sure you start the document with the name of your report if you are using eg Google Documents. That way jumping to the one-on-one document works via the browser bar.

# Continuous Performance Review
## Good
- NOTYETGIVEN Really good leadership for integrations in strategy workshop
- GIVEN 2023-04-12 Really good leadership for integrations in strategy workshop

## Bad&Ugly
- ...

# Health check 
- Collaboration with Team B RED
- Cycle time of platform  GREEN
- NPS of platform users ORANGE

# Meeting notes
## 2023-xx-xx (upcoming meeting)
- Topic

## 2023-04-14
- DONE Topic
- WIP Topic