Use 1:1 Meetings for Learning and Watch Your Business Thrive

by Sharlyn Lauby | Posted | Learning

Use 1:1 Meetings for Learning and Watch Your Business Thrive

Here's some news for your work day: learning is the catalyst for incredible achievements at work.

Employees perform at a higher level when they know what's expected of them, have the skills to perform the task and receive regular feedback about their performance. Of course, this is predicated on learning. Organizations cannot expect employee performance to happen by osmosis. Learning allows employees to gain the knowledge and skills they need and understand the expectations associated with using them.

Learning can take place both inside and outside the formal classroom environment. In fact, one place that learning is particularly effective is in 1:1 meetings. My latest blog series is going to focus on the role of learning during 1:1 meetings, starting with the reasons organizations should encourage it.

Learning objectives drive methods and mediums

Learning objectives are goals or statements regarding what an employee should be able to do after learning takes place. We state learning objectives regularly as we chat with colleagues. Here are a few examples:

"The company would see higher renewal rates if it learned ..."
"The accounting department needs to learn ..."
"Leonard would be a more effective sales person if he learned ..."

Granted, these are casual comments, but they highlight that learning objectives are a part of business. They also point out that learning objectives are not exclusive to large group training programs. Learning can take place in small groups, including 1:1 meetings. Organizations have an opportunity to define 1:1 meetings as more than a communications meeting. They are also a fantastic learning opportunity.

The role of learning in 1:1 meetings

Before we talk about the best interactions for a 1:1 learning meeting, let's step back for a moment and look at the three reasons to hold any type of meeting. Depending on the subject, learning falls into one or all of these categories.

Communicating information

In a group setting, this would look like a regularly scheduled department meeting. But we also regularly convey information in a face-to-face setting. Topics typically learned in this type of meeting are process-driven such as learning the new procedure for completing an expense report. Or they could be list-oriented such as the four best wines to serve with a cheeseburger.

Making decisions

Groups typically get together to decide on budgets, schedules, resources and other business items. We also meet one-on-one to make decisions that have a business impact, such as discussing the best option for resolving a client issue or determining the most valuable conference for employees to attend.

Solving problems

A team or group will get together to brainstorm ideas to address organizational challenges. Individuals will also gather to discuss challenges such as working with an employee who is struggling to meet their sales goal or discussing the need for a manager to have a difficult conversation with an employee.

Learning can effectively occur during any of these 1:1 meetings. It's also good to know that it doesn't need to be solely the manager who conducts learning via a 1:1 meeting, although they will be responsible for a majority of learning using this format.

Learning formats for 1:1 meetings

As mentioned above, the traditional manager-employee meeting isn't the only type of 1:1 interaction where learning can take place. Here are some other formats to consider.


An increasing number of organizations are developing formal mentoring programs. Mentoring programs provide valuable career development, knowledge management and learning. What's great about mentoring relationships is that both the mentee and the mentor can learn from each other.


Performance coaching is essential in a high performing culture. Employees need to know when their performance is meeting the standard as well as when it's not. But performance coaching doesn't always have to come from a manager. Peer-to-peer coaching allows employees to hear about their performance from the people they work side-by-side with each day.

Manager and employee 1:1

While this is the traditional way we think about 1:1 meetings, this doesn't mean that the agenda for these meetings needs to be stale. It also doesn't mean the meeting needs to be long. One-on-one doesn't mean one hour. Depending on the subject, employees are able to learn new concepts in a matter of minutes.

One-on-one meetings allow the organization to make learning a part of their culture, rather than an event that only happens in the classroom. Bringing a learning component into 1:1 meetings benefits everyone. Managers are able to discuss performance with employees on a regular basis. Employees become more engaged because the organization cares about their success.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series on using 1:1 meetings to drive learning. In our next post, we'll talk about how to create impactful learning objectives.

The Ultimate Guide To 1:1 Meetings

If you want to understand your people, you have to immerse yourself in their world with great conversations!

Free Ebook
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

The Ultimate Guide To 1:1 Meetings

If you want to understand your people, you have to immerse yourself in their world with great conversations!

Free Ebook

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