Catching up in a one-on-one sounds casual, and it can be. But that doesn’t mean this kind of meeting isn’t as (or more) critical as any other.
One-on-ones provide a unique forum in that they enable you to have a much more honest conversation with your colleagues—relative to other kinds of meetings. This makes these meetings very effective for ensuring your direct reports are happy and contributing.
Drilling down further, holding relatively frequent but short one-on-ones helps you course-correct and focus on improving work going forward. When you hold these meetings too infrequently, there’s a tendency to focus on past work. And while retrospectives have their place, you still want to skew the focus on action items for moving forward.