Download the One-on-One Meeting Checklist here.


Have you ever had communication troubles with your employees, your staff or your team members? Maybe you felt like something was brewing and then a big crisis happens? Or maybe you feel like they’re not doing what they should be doing and you try to tell them. You’re running out of time and you just basically wish they would get it.

If that has happened to you, then you’re going to like today’s video. Today we are going to talk about how to coach your employees successfully with monthly one-on-one meetings.

Right now you might not think you have time to fit in even more meetings with your people, but in the long run the time you invest now will save you hours, maybe even three to four times the same amount of hours on a monthly basis.

 Here’s why it’s important to have monthly one-on-one meetings with your team members:

  1. You will setup a culture of openness and communication in your business or team.
  2. Your team members will be happier and more motivated to do well.
  3. You’ll be able to enjoy your business because you’ll be more in sync with them.

Here are the steps you need to take to integrate one-on-one meetings into your business:

  1. Schedule a one hour a month meeting in a private space with each employee.
  2. Setup the winning conditions for those meetings: open, respectful, confidential.
  3. Follow this coaching sequence each time:
    1. From 1-10, how is it going with you? What would make it a 10 for you?
    2. How is it going with your tools? Your colleagues? Your boss (myself)?
    3. Is there anything in your way that might be preventing you from doing your job?
    4. How can I help you with these hurdles?
    5. I’ve noticed in the last month that you seem to face difficulties with…
  4. Schedule the next one-on-one right away for the next month.
  5. (optional) Take notes and send them to your team member after the meeting.

Some Do’s and Don’ts to Keep in Mind:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of this method, the real work happens after each meeting.
  • Don’t worry if it gets “hot,” this might happen, especially if you’ve never had this type of talk.
  • Listen, Listen, Listen. It is their time to shine, not yours (except for step 5).

Start with your top employee and schedule a one-on-one with them today. They are going to be easier, you probably already have a trusting relationship and you can get good practice. Download the free one-on-one checklist in the link provided here to use in your meeting. Also, please like my Facebook page, Small Business Sherpa so you know when Small Business Sherpa | The Course is launched!


[The following is the full transcript of this episode of Small Business Sherpa: The Podcast with David Salerno.]

Hey, welcome. My name is David Salerno. I’m the founder and owner of Solpak Packaging Solution, but that’s not what I want to talk to you about today. Today, I want to put on my small business Sherpa hat.

Before we start, I have a question for you. Have you ever had communication troubles with your employees, with your staff, with your team members? Maybe sometimes you felt something was brewing, brewing over the last few weeks, and then boom, a big crisis happens with an employee or between employees. Maybe you feel like they’re not doing what they should be doing, and you try to tell them. You’re running out of time, and you just basically wish they would just get it.

If that has happened to you, I think you’re going to like what we’re going to talk about today. In my particular case, when I started Solpak, everything was easy. I was alone at first. Eventually the team grew, and then certain symptoms starting to show up.

I was very blessed to actually have training over training when, in my previous life, I was in the corporate world, and it was all about coaching. It was all about tactics, methods, the psychology of taking care of people with your team so that they take care of you and your business. I basically implemented these things in the business. That has allowed me to enjoy my business, and to be able to not be here all the time, and still have a dedicated team.

Today what we’re going to talk about, and I think you’re going to really like it, especially if you’re having issues with your team, is we’re going to talk about how to coach your employees successfully with your one-on-one meetings, the monthly one-on-one meetings. Ready to start? Let’s go.

Why is it important that you actually do this monthly one-on-one meeting? You’re probably thinking, “David, I don’t have time right now. How am I going to fit in even more meetings with my people?” Actually, the time you will invest there will save you hours, maybe three to four times the same amount of hours on a monthly basis.

Why is it important to have one-on-one monthly with each of your team members? First, you’re going to create a context of openness and communication. This time, dedicated once a month, will really create an environment where your team will be more comfortable with you in the other times you’re not on the one-on-one. The one-on-one sets up the stage.

The second reason why it’s important to have one-on-one monthly meetings, your team members will be happier. They’ll be happier. They’ll be more motivated, because you’re going to have that touchpoint, which will be deeper, reserved, special space for them. That’s going to fuel them for the next upcoming few weeks. If they’re going through a rough patch, they know the one-on-one is upcoming anyways, so they’ll have a chance to touch base with you on those topics. Team members will be more motivated.

Finally, you will be able to enjoy your business, or your team, because you’ll be more in sync with them. Every month, you’ll have spent some good time with them. You’ll know exactly how they’re feeling, what’s going on in their head, because they’ll share them with you. You’ll be able to enjoy your business as a whole if you do that with your team members.

All right. Ready to start? Today we’re going to use the whiteboard. I’m very excited. The lighting, however, was not exciting. This was really tough, so this is the best we could come up. I’m sure you’ll love it.

Here are the steps. First you got to set up a one-on-one meeting for one hour once a month with your team members. Today we’re talking about one-on-one. Perfect. First, you need to schedule it, not, “Oh yes, good idea. I’m going to talk to my people next month when I have the time.” No, you schedule, you book it. It’s going to create an anticipation in your team members. “Oh, I have a one-on-one. What’s going to happen?” You’re going to start thinking, so that’s an excellent thing. You always schedule it.

Second, you want to create the winning conditions for the setup of your one-on-one. What do I mean by that? First, you got to make sure, when you start the meeting, that you explain the goal of the meeting. Now you’ll do that the first time, but then you’ll be okay.

First, you tell them, “This is an open discussion. There’s no bad ideas, no good ideas, open discussion.”

Second, you’re going to tell your team member that we’re going to do this with respect. Especially if you have tension in your team, you want to be able to tell them, “Look, this space is made with openness and respect.”

And finally, confidential. Confidential. Why confidential? Because that openness will trigger conversations sometimes that will go a little bit further than the actual tasks at hand, or projects, and you want to assure them this will stay between you and them. They might talk to you about their colleagues, which is okay. Make sure that you confirm this is going to be confidential.

Open, all topics are allowed. Respectful, we do it respectfully, mutually, And finally, confidential, so everything that’s said here, stays here, like Las Vegas, apparently. Not that I’ve really done anything in Las Vegas, but anyways.

All right so that’s the setup. “Okay, so now David, tell me, what am I supposed to do in the one-on-one?” Here’s how I’ve been doing it, and in coaching sessions that will teach you that kind of stuff as well, you have Sherpa to do it for you.

What is the agenda? Number one. Number one is, you start off the meeting, once you’re sitting, door’s closed. Lucy, let’s use the name Lucy, “Lucy, how’s it going with you?” That’s it. You just, “How’s it going with you?” And you stop, and you just wait to see what comes up. All right? Sometimes I even will say, “How’s it going with you at Solpak? How’s life at Solpak?” The open-ended question, you just want them to start talking. They’ll just tell you what’s on their mind, and that’s what you really want to start out with.

If there’s kind of a resistance, you could also ask a score from one to 10. Right now at Solpak, life at Solpak, from one to 10, 10 being great, one being horrible, how would you score it? They’ll be thinking, “It’s an eight.” Remember, you’re going to do this monthly, so you’re going to get a real feel of how it’s going, a vibe for your team, because sometimes scores will follow. Your whole team might give you six or seven sometimes. Sometimes they’ll give you ten, and you’ll be able to really be in sync with what’s going on.

Once this is done, the second step, then you’re like, “How’s it going with your tools?” That’s an easy question, so it’s non-threatening. We’re not talking about emotions. It’s really just an easy way of saying, “How are your tools working? Your computer?” If they have a car, because they’re on the road, if they’re using equipment or what not, just, “How’s it going with your tools and equipment?” It’s a very non-threatening question, which is good. It gives them a little bit more confidence in talking to you about what’s going on. Quite frankly, often, one of the most frustrating thing in our lives at work is our tools. Give them a chance to talk about it, so, “How’s it going with your tools?” You could use a scoring, if you wish.

Then the second thing is, “How’s it going with your colleagues? How’s the vibe with your colleagues?” Now you’re getting a little more sentimental. That conversation could take a few minutes. Right there, you’re going to have a few minutes right there. If ever there’s an issue with one of their team members, with the whole gang, this could trigger a big conversation, and it’s okay. That’s what we want, because that’s why sometimes your team members leave is, because they have a beef with their colleague, and nobody gave them a chance to talk about it.

The second thing is, if they have a beef with their tools, and their car is always at the garage, and they come at the office upset, it’s a vibe they show to others. You want them to get this done, so expect potentially, if you start doing this, a flood in the beginning. Let them talk about it.

Finally, you say, “How’s it going with your boss?” Yes, you want to ask your team members how it’s going with their boss. That’s you, by the way, I’m assuming. You want to ask, “How’s it going with your boss?” They talk to you about your tools, and you’ve listened. Maybe you took a few notes of things to do. They’ve talked about their colleagues, and you’ve listened. Now you ask about their boss. They’re much more inclined to tell you … They saw, “Okay, he’s listening to me, or she’s listening to me.”

“You know what? I’ve noticed the other day you got super upset at me when I was fixing the lighting for the video shoot. I didn’t really like it, because you had just told me before that you wanted it a certain way, and it wasn’t working. It’s going good. It’s just that that kind of upset me.” You see?

This is exactly what happened 15 minutes ago, but I haven’t had the talk with Katherine, who’s in charge of lighting. Hi, Katherine. But that’s the kind of conversation we might have where we get to that question. And she’ll be totally right, and it gives you a chance, because you mess up sometimes with your staff. You blurt out something, you leave, and then you’re like, “That wasn’t too swell of me to do this.” That’s going to give you a chance to re-conciliate with your team member.

All right? This is the crux of your one-on-one in a monthly meeting. Once this is out of the way, the third thing you’re going to talk about is, you’re going to ask, “Regarding your work, is anything in your way?” Is anything in your way? What does that mean? You have a job. You know what you have to do, and fundamental human beings are very funny. They like to do a good job, all of us. If we don’t, it’s because something is in the way. What’s in the way? You want to ask that question. If it hasn’t shown up here, that’s another way of letting them express it. What’s in the way?

There’s two more steps, and then you’re done. This is an hour right here. Five minutes, 25 minutes, 30 minutes, maybe. This is going to be 10 minutes, because they’ve talked to you about a lot of stuff here, anything in your way. Now, two things, the last two things.

You’re going to ask, “How can I help you?” How can I help you? This is such a powerful statement. This here is the money shot. You’ve listened, listened, listened, listened, listened, listened, listened. Now you’re asking a question, but now you’re putting yourself in the picture and saying, “Okay, how can I help you?”

What’s going to happen is now you’re moving in solution mode. This is a very powerful … You’re moving in solution mode. They’re starting to think, “Okay, wait a minute. How can my boss help me?” They’re going to come up with action items that they feel will help them, and then you have a discussion about that.

Last, but not least, this is the part you were probably waiting for, because you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute, but what if I have stuff to tell my employee?” Right? Exactly. You end the meeting, well not end it, but your last main point is, “I have noticed that you have difficulties with …” “I have noticed that you have difficulties with …” and that, usually, you’re already prepared. You’re not creating it as you listen. You already know, and you want to identify the top opportunity for improvement of your employee. Very important. “I noticed that you have difficulties with …”

For example, I have a player who … Let me think here an example. Example, somebody’s a bit disorganized, and they are have a problem getting everything done. You’re like, “I’ve noticed this month,” because remember, it’s month to month, “that you have difficulties with getting everything done during the day, so I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that.” That’s your topic. Now you’re bringing your coaching case, and that’s for another video, obviously.

That particular discussion then will be all about the difficulties. You’ll have created an environment where they talk about all the stuff that’s on their mind. You’ve emptied all the buckets. You’ve switched to solution mode, and now you’re bringing your point of the agenda as, “I’ve noticed you have difficulties with getting everything done in a day, so here’s a few things I wanted to help you with.” It gives you the choice and the possibility to bring your point to the table.

That’s it. Number one, “How’s it going? From one to 10, how would you score life at Solpak?” or whatever business you’re running. Then, “Okay, so how are your tools? How’s it going with your colleagues?” Remember, you just don’t say anything. You wait for them to talk. Finally, “How’s it going with your boss?” Once this is out of the way, “Now, is there anything in your way of doing a great job at Solpak these days?” Then they’ll talk to you, blah, blah, blah. Finally, “How can I help you with what’s in the way?” At the end, “I’ve noticed you have difficulties with,” and you choose the top opportunity for improvement that they have, and you talk about that. That’s it. That’s the meeting.

Then finally, at the end, you schedule the next one-on-one. What’s optional, we do it at Solpak, you don’t have to do it, but you could take notes. I include that in the downloadable, and send them to them at the end of the month, so it’s kind of the month. Then when you do the next one-on-one meeting, you just pull out, “Hey, last month, we discussed about this or that,” if you feel like doing a follow-up about the elements that you discussed in the prior one. That’s it. Basically, that’s it.

Do’s and don’ts. Don’t underestimate the power of this method. Right now, I have no idea if this is resonating with you or not. Maybe this is completely new. Maybe this is something you already do. Do not underestimate the power of this method. You want your employees to feel comfortable, to tell you exactly what’s on their mind, to empty their buckets before you get to a point where you discuss with them about opportunities you feel they should improve. Very important.

Second, don’t worry if it gets hot, and this might happen, especially if you’ve never done this before with your team members. I’ve had situations where the kleenexes were going, because there was crying involved, even if it was done respectfully, because sometimes there’s accumulated anger. It’s okay. It’s hot. I’m a French Canadian. Does that show? That being said, don’t be worried about that.

Finally, a do and don’t, listen, listen, listen. You have two ears, one mouth. Use them in proportion. Listen, listen, listen. You don’t need to justify. When they’re in this situation, you don’t have to justify anything. Just let them talk. If they tell you, you’re this and you’re that, you’re like, “Okay, I understand.” Repeat the same words, active listening. That’s something else I could cover one day. Just make sure you listen a lot. Take notes, very important, and you’ll show that you’ve valuing what your employee’s telling you.

All right. Now, I hope you enjoyed this quick session on one-on-one meetings. I hope I’ve convinced you it’s very important. I’m going to invite you to download the checklist that’s down here, over there, sometimes it’s on the other … Anyways, there’s a download somewhere in the great stratosphere of this video.

Schedule a one-on-one with your top employee. Do it. Do it today. It’s not complicated. Just do it, but take your top employee. Why? Because it’s going to be easier, you probably already have a trusting relationship, and just practice this. You’ll have it in the checklist, and just give me a shout out and see how it goes. If you’re very valiant, book the other one-on-one meeting with your employee that you’ve had the most difficult time with so far, or these days. Then you get to experience both, and they’ll give you a good practice.

That’s it. Two favor I would ask of you. Please, go visit my Small Business Sherpa Facebook page, and like it, or follow it. You can also subscribe to the waiting list on for my upcoming course that’s called “Small Business Sherpa, The Course.” I want to thank you for watching. Please, get to know that if you’re on the right path to growth, and you have the right tools, you too can enjoy your business.

Coach your … Oh, that can’t happen. That’s my phone. I’m more natural.