A 4 Step Framework for One-on-One Catch Ups for People Leaders

By PeopleLeaders | People Leaders Podcast

A 4 Step Framework for One-on-One Catch Ups for People Leaders

It’s important for managers to check in on their staff in regular one-on-one catch ups. But without a process or structure, these conversations can be quite transactional. In this post (and this podcast episode), we explain how we help managers pave the way to far more valuable and effective catch ups using four steps and five additional tips.

Step 1 - Follow up

Do you need to follow up with something or check in on a commitment from the last session? Does your report? If you’re in the habit of taking notes, review them to see what was committed to for follow up. (If you’re not in the habit of taking notes – start now – it makes follow up a lot easier!)

Step 2 - Share information

As a manager, you’re privy to a lot more information than your staff, especially at a corporate level. Share as much as you’re at liberty to. Everyone wants to be in the know, so be sure to give them the heads up if any changes are afoot.

Step 3 - Provide feedback

Is there any acknowledgement, or comments either positive or corrective that you can give? Perhaps there’s a red flag starting to raise its head that you need cut off at the pass. If you can acknowledge your report for doing something really well, or for a behaviour you want to focus on, then do so. Be mindful of offering a balanced combination of feedback around behaviour, performance and task.

Step 4 – Delegate and develop

Can you use this catch up as an opportunity to delegate a task? Is there a development opportunity for your staff member? You might discuss their development goals and progress, asking them what steps they’ve taken in their development plan and what support you can provide them with.

We’ve developed a handy template to help with planning before going into a one-on-one catch up. It includes some useful coaching questions to support really robust discussion and the following tips too.

Tip #1 – Stick to a regular schedule

Try having your catch up at regular time each week/fortnight. If you can’t make the arranged time, don’t cancel it outright. Reschedule straight away. Cancelling sends a negative message.

Tip #2 – Keep it private

Make sure your one-on-one meeting is private. And remember, what you think is private (like the corner of the canteen) may not be private to someone else. (This could be due to personality style differences.) Our advice is to book a room.

Tip #3 – Take notes and follow up

Discuss between you how you’ll document the conversation. If you've committed to taking notes and following up, make sure you do that. You’ll be sending the message that it’s important to you that you're both on the same page. We encourage people to take ownership of their own feedback. Managers should invite staff to reaffirm what’s been agreed to via email. As a result, there’ll be clarity around actions and support in all matters discussed.

Tip #4 – Timeframe

Catch ups don’t have to be time-consuming. Try the 15-15 approach where the first 15 minutes are for one person and the next 15 minutes are for the other. Alternatively, you might spend 15 minutes going through the process, and then 15 minutes focusing on career development. It’s really up to you both to decide how long is necessary. Discuss what will work best for both of you.

Tip #5 – Use the feedback model SBIN

Using the feedback model SBIN helps you structure your feedback so it’s delivered and received in the most effective way possible.

Use S first to describe the situation or context. These are objective facts and specifics rather than your opinion, e.g. “Simon, last week when you give the presentation to our key stakeholders, you did a great job stepping them through the key issues, particularly on slide one and seven. You outlined it really well, and very clearly.”

Then we move into B which describes behaviour you’re giving feedback on (this is more subjective). And subtly into I which describes the impact of the behaviour on others, e.g. “Simon, you articulated your message calmly and clearly at a very accessible pace. What I noticed is that the stakeholders’ eyes lit up and they started to take notes. They were very positive and engaged. Talking with one another after the presentation they said they were very impressed, particularly with those slides.”

The N stands for What Now? Here you wrap up of the conversation and outline next steps, e.g. “Simon, I think it might be a good idea to follow up with an email, thanking them for their participation and offering to send them the slide deck.”

Good feedback will combine all these factors so remember to use the SBIN acronym to structure the information you want to share. In this way you’ll give yourself the best chance of a positive outcome.


Preparing for your catch ups with the steps and tips above will help you get the most out of your meeting. And the good thing is that they’ll just get better and better with practice. Try it out using our template, and let us know how you go.

A 4 Step Framework for One-on-One Catch Ups for People Leaders #leadership #teambuilding #communication