08 May 2024 |

Better 1:1s, Explained

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

The number one question I get asked is “how can I run better 1:1s?”.

The people have asked, so let’s get the people some answers.

Whenever I think about improving 1:1s, it comes down to these 3 simple things:

  1. Clear expectations
  2. Preparation
  3. Attunement

Clear expectations

First step towards having a great 1:1 experience is providing clarity on: 

  • What 1:1s are for
  • How they’ll be run
  • When they’ll happen

For example:

  • What 1:1s are for: support rep productivity, performance and development 
  • How they’ll be run: provide an agenda of what to expect
    • General well being and employee experience
    • Numbers review
    • Goals for the week
    • What’s going to help support goals
    • What could hinder goal attainment
    • Where does rep need help
    • What’s one skill / development area to focus on this week
  • When they’ll happen: 2x per week
    • Beginning of week 1:1 for reviewing numbers
    • End of week 1:1 for coaching and skill development

🏀Assist: When considering when to run 1:1s, poll your team for their preferred days and times if your schedule can accommodate flexibility. For example, if you know one of your reps is a crank in the morning, stick to afternoon 1:1s. 


The biggest reason why 1:1s would suck is because reps, managers or both aren’t prepared to use the 1:1 time productively.

To mitigate the chances of 1:1s being a waste, make sure the rep knows how to prepare for 1:1s. You also want to make sure you have everything you need to be prepared before the 1:1 begins. 


  • What data do you need to review with your reps?
  • Which action items are still outstanding +/or need to be reviewed?
  • What feedback do you need to provide to your reps?

For data, an easy way to make sure everyone is prepared is by having reporting +/or dashboarding built out so you and reps can easily find and review.

For action items, this is something that should be written down and made visible by both manager and rep. *Cough* the Rep Development Playbook is a must have for this *cough*.

For feedback, know what needs to be addressed and how you’re going to address it prior to coming into the 1:1 with your rep. 

🏀Assist: If you know there’s feedback you need to share with your reps – especially difficult feedback – give your reps a heads up before your 1:1. This way they’ll be mentally ready and receptive. Plus, it might help you feel more comfortable giving that feedback. 


If you’ve never heard of the word attunement before or aren’t sure what it means, here’s a simple definition – attunement is the ability to be aware of and respond to our rep’s needs.

Why should I care about attuning to my reps?

If you DO NOT demonstrate behaviors that show your people:

  • You care about their needs
  • You will do the work to help them get their needs met

You will NOT support your reps’ growth, development, engagement, productivity or likelihood to stay at the company for very long. 

How do I attune to my reps?

I could do an entire series on rep attunement, but for the sake of this newsletter, here are some tactics I’ve found really helpful:

  1. Ask reps to send a weekly update one business day before your first 1:1 of the week – be sure to ask questions about how they’re doing and feeling, what’s been frustrating as well as awesome, and where they feel like they need the most help
  2. Review the update before the 1:1 and come up with a set of questions you’d like to ask your rep regarding what they’ve shared in the update
  3. During the 1:1, highlight the big areas that stood out from their update and ask them to prioritize how they’d like for you two to triage

📓Note: There are times when a rep’s needs cannot be met at your company. For example, if a rep needs a promotion to stay engaged and your company has a hiring freeze, that need isn’t going to be met. But, you can still demonstrate curiosity, compassion and care towards your rep in understanding what a promotion means to and for them. Plus, this might open up the door to explore a different way to satisfy what’s important to your reps. 

🏀Assist: I can’t stress enough how important attuning to reps is. People want to feel like they’re cared about, regardless of their role or tenure. When people feel like their manager cares about them – because their manager is attuning to their needs – they’ll be more likely to go the extra mile to demonstrate care to their managers.

Speed round advice on 1:1s

  • Get 1:1s on the calendar and set to recurring 
  • Do your best to not cancel 1:1 or switch out last minute if you can
  • Recognize 1:1s can be a great time to learn from your reps
  • Don’t expect your reps to always have solutions during 1:1s…instead become a through partner in solutioning 
  • If you’re strapped for time and/or have a big team, consider doing group 1:1s and having office hours