Three-Question Framework for Effective One-on-One Meetings

3rd May, 2024

Let’s dive into the essence of effective one-on-one meetings with a simple yet powerful three-question framework. This framework will help you lead authentic conversations that yield clear performance outcomes.

But before we begin, make sure you read the blog Maximising Employee Performance Through One-on-One Meetings. It sets the stage for maximising the insights you’ll gain from this blog. 

One-on-one meetings, ideally held weekly (or at most every two weeks), involve sitting down with each team member to drive clear performance outcomes. And don’t worry, these meetings should only take about 20 minutes per employee. 


two people talking at work - effective one-on-one meetings


The Power of Structure

Structured environments actually fuel creativity, contrary to the belief that they stifle it. Even highly creative individuals, like artists, rely on structure. They have designated creative spaces with organised equipment and materials, which helps them stay in the flow without interruptions. Those who claim to thrive without structure often need help to accomplish much. Take Messi and Ronaldo—they excel due to their structured approach. Personally, structure boosts my creativity and productivity across coaching, leadership, content creation, and speaking engagements. Without it, I feel less motivated, stressed, and produce lower-quality work, even missing deadlines. Structure is key to unleashing my best creative self. 

Gallup research reveals that nearly 43% of one-on-one meetings are rescheduled, and about 30% are canceled. Why does this happen so often? Leaders often prioritise other tasks, leading to these disruptions. When I’ve rescheduled or canceled meetings, it usually boils down to two main issues. First, I wasn’t clear on the meeting’s purpose, and second, I lacked a structured agenda. The result? I would postpone to clarify the intent and structure, or if possible, I’d cancel and reschedule for the same reason. When discussing this with other business owners, they often face similar challenges.

For one-on-one performance meetings, the clear goal is to drive employee performance. With a simple, repeatable structure, you’ll feel more confident and prioritise these meetings, understanding their value. Here’s a real-life example: a client of mine was stressed and disconnected from their team, with inconsistent results. Introducing weekly structured one-on-one meetings made a significant difference. Within a month, stress was reduced, teamwork improved, and clarity on tasks increased. Delegation became easier, leading to better results over time. 


Three Questions for Effective One-on-One Meetings

Structure brings focus, efficiency, quality, and confidence to leadership. Here’s the simple three-question framework you can use to give structure to your one-on-one performance meetings and to drive employee performance.


Question 1:  What have you achieved in your role in the last seven days?

Starting your one-on-ones with a positive note can set a great tone for the meeting and the week ahead. The power of three works well here, where employees share their three most impactful achievements. This simplicity helps process information effectively, focusing on what truly matters. 

For new leaders or teams, starting with one achievement can also be a good approach. Over time, as one-on-ones become more familiar, you can gradually move towards discussing three key achievements. This structured approach helps drive consistent employee performance and progress.


Question 2: What are you focused on achieving in your role in the next seven days?

As a leader, it’s essential to guide employees in understanding where to direct their energy effectively for the week ahead. During this part of the meeting, you can either ask the employee to identify key focus areas related to team goals or give specific directives based on business priorities. It’s important to ensure that the agreed-upon tasks contribute value to the business.

Encourage employees to write down and email their agreed-upon tasks within 5 to 10 minutes after the meeting. This creates a sense of commitment and accountability. In the following week’s meeting, review whether these tasks were accomplished. If any weren’t completed, discuss what happened and how to overcome barriers to success. Provide support and express expectations clearly to drive performance and goal achievement.


Question 3: What help do you need from me to achieve your goals in the next seven days?

A key principle I hold dear in leadership is supporting employees to succeed. This question is about opening the door for your team to ask for any resources, guidance, or support they need to thrive in their roles.

The most crucial thing for leaders to grasp here is that it’s our responsibility to clear any hurdles and ensure our employees have what they need to succeed. When it comes to this point, I prefer jotting down the agreed-upon details. Then, when I receive an email from my team member outlining key focus activities, I reply with the agreed points and offer any assistance needed. This process of documenting and emailing fosters a sense of commitment from both sides.

Success isn’t a one-way street; it’s a collaborative effort. When both leaders and team members play their part, success becomes inevitable. Introducing this framework into your one-on-one meetings will revolutionize them, strengthening your relationships with your team. This approach builds trust and boosts performance, often showing noticeable improvements within a month.


Putting Into Practice

Effective one-on-one meetings are conducted in a quiet, supportive setting, and follow through on all agreed-upon actions. The magic of this three-question framework is how simple yet powerful it is. It’s going to transform how you approach performance meetings. Here’s a handy checklist to help you get started:

  • Start by meeting with your employees to introduce the one-on-one approach and the three-question framework. Allow time for questions.
  • Schedule weekly or fortnightly 20-minute slots in your calendar with each employee. During these meetings, use the three-question framework.
  • Be consistent. Avoid canceling or rescheduling unless there’s a major life event.
  • After each meeting, take five minutes to reflect. Write down what went well and areas for improvement. Implement one improvement each week.
  • Finally, repeat the process in line with your weekly or fortnightly meeting schedule.


Master the Art of One-on-one Meetings

In today’s hybrid work environment, mastering effective one-on-one meetings is key to consistent business success. Our program doors are opening soon, and I’ll personally guide you in improving employee performance and achieving steady results.

Join our waitlist for the Master One-on-One Meetings program at In our next blog, I’ll uncover the top five mistakes leaders make in these meetings.

Sign up at to be among the first notified when the doors open. 

For more insights and examples, tune into the Three-Question Framework for Effective One-on-One Meetings podcast episode.

Let’s ace those one-on-one meetings together!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *