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A lot of managers and team members find 1-1s very useful. This short FAQ is intended to help you get the most out of them.

What are 1-1s and why should I do them?

The most important part of any manager's role at PostHog is setting context. 1-1s can be valuable opportunity to do this by diving deeper into topics which may not be easy to cover in other contexts like GitHub or sprint planning.

Most people do a weekly or bi-weekly 1-1 with their manager, with a 30min minimum. Any less than this is too short or infrequent.

Sounds easy enough - what’s the problem?

It’s very easy for 1-1s to:

  • Not happen because you’re both too busy
  • Just be a regular status update on tasks or projects
  • Be a general chat without much direction

None of these options are terribly useful for either party.

Ok, so how do I have a great 1-1?

If you are a manager, ask better questions! The 1-1 should be a conversation, not just a status update. Of course you will naturally touch on discuss what’s going on that week, but your 1-1 should ideally be person-centric rather than project-centric.

Julie Zhuo suggests the following buckets of questions you might find useful in her excellent book ‘The Making of a Manager’:

  • Identify
    • What’s top of mind for you right now?
    • What priorities are you thinking about this week?
    • What’s the best use of our time today?
  • Understand
    • What does your ideal outcome look like for what you're currently working on?
    • What’s hard for you in getting to that outcome?
    • What do you really care about?
    • What do you think is the best course of action?
    • What’s the worst-case scenario you’re worried about?
  • Support
    • How can I help you?
    • What can I do to make you more successful?
    • What was the most useful part of our conversation today?

Obviously the intention here is not to just race through the questions above like a robot - they are simply suggestions for useful ways to engage in a more insightful way with your team. Some people like a structured approach, others prefer something looser - tailor the 1-1 based on your team member's needs.

The last word...

“The ideal 1:1 leaves your report feeling that it was useful for her. If she thinks that the conversation was pleasant but largely unmemorable, you can do better.” - Julie Zhuo

If you want to learn more, check out First Round Review for at least another 6 articles on the subject.