How do I Create a 1×1 System?

A 1×1 System is simply a deliberate effort to hold one-on-one meetings with each of the team members who report directly to you. While it may seem simple, many of our clients are moving at a fast pace in their day-to-day operations. Creating and implementing a 1×1 System can seem daunting. How can you create a 1×1 System that you will actually use?

A 1×1 System has four main parts:

  1. Who do I meet with for 1×1 meetings?

Often, leaders will meet with their direct reports. They have the most information to share with each other about the tasks at hand. This also develops leaders throughout the organization.

  1. How often do I hold 1×1 meetings?

Some leaders prefer to meet with their direct reports every week. Some leaders may prefer to meet more or less frequently, depending on the tasks and work flow. We recommend meeting at least every other week to stay proactive. Do not wait for a semi-annual or annual review to check-in with your team members.

  1. How long should 1×1 meetings last?

These meetings are designed to be brief. Everyone is busy, so these meetings should not be a burden to anyone. We have found that most 1×1 meetings last about 5 minutes. A long meeting may last up to 15 minutes. The key is to check in regularly, so each meeting is not tackling a lot of new content.

  1. What do I discuss during 1×1 meetings?

Ask questions. Great leaders ask great questions, and healthy employees figure out the right solutions. We coach leaders to only do about 5-10% of the talking.

We strongly recommend a repeatable agenda. This allows everyone to come into 1×1 meetings prepared. In our business, our agenda starts with their “wins”. Do not skip this step. It is important to find out what they accomplished and what made them feel proud over the past week. Celebrate with them. This will keep you from focusing only on what is not going well.

Then we ask for the status of their “Three Crucial Tasks” from the past week. While most people will have more than three tasks to complete in a week, we find that most people can identify three big rocks that must be accomplished. So, while other tasks may come up, they can keep their “Three Crucial” on their radar.

Next, we ask, “What is your biggest challenge?” If they have a challenge or struggled to complete any of their Three Crucial, the immediate follow-up question is “What are your options to address that?” Do not immediately go in with a solution. You are not leading by telling them how to fix the problem. Rather, take this opportunity to work with them to overcome that obstacle or find the right solution. Over time, you will build a team of problem solvers.

Then, we ask them to identify their Three Crucial Tasks for the new week. This gives us an opportunity to see how they would prioritize their tasks, and it gives us an opportunity to help them determine the right tasks to prioritize.

Identifying their Three Crucial is key to setting the right expectations, focusing their work week, and helping them better understand how their work relates to the goals and objectives of the organization.

If needed, we address missed expectations or other performance-related issues here, using our Performance Management System (see our blog article, “Don’t Avoid Uncomfortable Conversations: Creating a Performance Management Process that Makes Your Team and Business Better”).

Finally, we ask, “What was valuable for you in this conversation?”

We have found that investing the time to use a 1×1 system yields significant dividends back for the leader and the organization. By staying more proactive about setting expectations, minimizing unexpected interruptions, checking on the status of tasks, addressing roadblocks, and giving feedback, organizations run more efficiently, employee engagement improves, and productivity rises.

If you want to learn more about how to design and implement a 1×1 System in your organization, contact us at or email us at