One-on-ones are the most valuable

Synopsis of an article from The Startup by Mathilde Collin, Published 3rd May 2019

This story is about software startup – ‘FRONT‘ which is an email and collaboration platform but what they do is less important to the article, which is about the culture of the organisation. Written before CoVID this article talks to the importance of having quality one-on-one meetings. The goal is to ensure that people are working on the right things and that they properly understand the business priorities. The result very high employee engagement (NPS 97) and retention.


The regular 1:1 meetings have a clear cadence, they are weekly, monthly and six monthly. And the key is to have a clear agenda that is shared with both participants before the meeting (so they can prepare appropriately) and either party can put items on the agenda at any time.

Weekly meetings is focused on work; reporting progress, escalation or unblocking issues and solving or answering questions.

Monthly meetings are focused on general happiness, once again the manager shares the questions ahead of the meeting. These meetings have about 6-8 questions they always include specific questions ‘over the last month, what have you been happy about?’ and ‘in the last month what made you unhappy?’ Then the other 4 or 6 questions come from a list of the following.

  • How do you feel about your goals for this quarter?
  • Any feedback for me?
  • How could I be a better manager for you?
  • What can I do to make your professional life better?
  • What’s the biggest problem of our organization?
  • What don’t you like about our product?
  • What would you like to improve next quarter?
  • What would you like to achieve by the end of the year?
  • What would you like to learn?
  • How is your team doing?
  • What would you like to be better at / in which areas would you like to grow?
  • After X+ month/years at Front, how do you feel overall?
  • If you were me, what would you do differently?
  • What are the things you’ve done since you joined you’re the most proud about?
  • Is there anything I could do to invest more in your growth?
  • In the next month, what would you like to do differently from last month?
  • What’s the split of your time today between X/Y/Z? What would you like to spend more/less time on?

An important part of the preparation for these meeting is asking the person for the feedback to the questions at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled check-in, it gives the manager time to consider feedback, prepare responses and plans for the employees career path.

Mathilde makes the point this level of preparation does take work, there are unwritten rules that these meetings are recurring events and they don’t get rescheduled unless someone is sick, that is symbolic because these meetings are important.

Mathilde Collin is Co-founder and CEO at Front (

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