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What To Cover in Your First One-on One-With a New Employee
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What To Cover in Your First One-on One-With a New Employee

Tips and a free one-on-one template.

January 26, 2021
Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

First impressions are essential, and your first one-on-one with a new employee is no exception. An excellent first meeting lays the groundwork for a solid working relationship into the months and years ahead. 

Here's how to make sure you set up your new team member for success with a one-on-one that covers all the bases.

Ask 1:1 Questions that Lay a Personal Foundation

This first one-on-one is an opportunity to spark a rapport with your new employee. You'll want to let them know how to best reach out to you when they need to, and get to know them for who they are besides being your newest team member.

Not sure how to do that? Browse our check-in questions for inspiration. 

For example, consider opening the meeting with something that helps you get to know your new hire on a personal level. 

Examples of good first one-on-one meeting questions:

  • I spent my weekend doing ____; how do you like to spend your free time?
  • Do you have any passions outside of work?
  • What are you most excited about as we begin working together?
  • What do you need from me to feel set up for success?

Now that you've asked some relatively easy questions, you can move on to more serious ones. 

From there, ask about their preferred communication methods and share yours. 

They'll likely need to learn how to work within the organization's existing communication channels, of course. However, knowing how they prefer to be contacted can inform your approach as you work to build a lasting connection and model emotional intelligence.

Set Clear Professional Goals

After a little warm-up and connecting personally, you can start to wade into more work-centered waters. Having a new hire to onboard and welcome often involves many moving parts. With that in mind, what are you hoping to accomplish after this first one-on-one?

Most managers find they need to cover a high-level view of what the next 30, 60, or even 180 days looks like depending on their new employee's role. It may also be necessary to spend some of the meeting covering role-specific policies and procedures that general training didn't cover.

Consider what you as a supervisor need from your newest team member now. What will you need down the line? Are others counting on the new employee as well?

The idea here isn't to overwhelm new hires. Instead, it's to set them up for success with clear expectations.

Provide Support and Resources

You'll also want to provide resources and guidance to support your new employee's work. Offering yourself as a resource and making introductions to other helpful team members will keep them from feeling overwhelmed.

One of the best ways to make it clear that you're ready to be supportive is to commit a portion of your first one-on-one to listening to them. They likely have questions, need clarifications, and want to share parts of themselves and their talents that aren't obvious from their resume and interviews.

The hiring process is a whirlwind for candidates, and landing the job can leave a hire excited but a little nervous. Demonstrate in your first one-on-one that you're there to listen. If they have questions, you can't immediately answer them, write them down and get back to them promptly. Take note of their answers to your opening questions, including their personal interests.

Position yourself as one of many people they can turn to for help, and watch their confidence blossom.  You can find a little more help in our quick guide to one-on-one meetings.

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Create and Share a 1:1 Agenda

With multiple goals and tasks a near certainty for your first one-on-one, you'll need an agenda that covers everything you'd like to go over in your meeting. An agenda offers structure and ensures nothing slips through the cracks.

Perhaps the most important thing to do with an agenda, however, is to share it with your new employee before the meeting occurs—by at least. By sharing the agenda to your first one-on-one in advance, you give them a chance to review it and add their questions or items they feel are important. By involving the new employee, you help establish a culture of open communication and collaboration.

Still not sure where to start with your first one-on-one with a new employee? 

Here is one of our most-popular free one-on-one agenda templates. Use it for suggested questions and structure. All of our templates are customizable. You can download this first one-on-one agenda template as a Word Doc or copy as a Google doc. If you use it in Hugo, it can easily be shared with employees for collaboration once you've tweaked them to meet your needs.

Manager Weekly One-on-One

Intro question

Start with an open-ended question. How was last week? What’s been working well for you lately? 

Celebrate Wins & Lessons Learned

What have we accomplished since our last meeting? Note progress on important initiatives.

How can we be better? Highlight lessons learned from the previous week.

Remove Roadblocks

What (if anything) is stopping—or slowing down—your progress? How can we remove that roadblock? What support do you need? 

Plan to remove specific roadblocks and create action items.

Two-Way Evaluation and Feedback

How are we doing? How can we work together more effectively? 

Open Discussion

Provide time for open discussion. Is there anything else you want to talk about? 

Follow-Up

Should we schedule another one-on-one? Review any action items arising from the one-on-one.

Action items:


Remember: The First 1:1 is Just One of Many

While perfecting the first one-on-one with a new employee can take a little trial and error, it's helpful to remember that this is just the beginning. As your new team member finds their place in your organization, you'll have regular one-on-one meetings to reconnect and fill in any gaps that were missed in other meetings.

Over time, these opportunities to connect will build into an ongoing professional relationship and, hopefully, lots of productive work to meet your organization's goals.

Want to learn more about the secrets to great ongoing meetings? Check out our post on how leaders run effective meetings.

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Rob Lennon
Customer Education Lead at Hugo
Marketer and author with experience spanning a diverse 16 years in retail and SaaS startups across healthcare, mar-tech, and ad-tech, and productivity software sectors.

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