How do you start your 1:1s with your direct reports? Small talks are actually much bigger than we think! 

I used to start my 1:1s (meeting between a direct report and her/his manager) with my team members asking very straightforward business-related questions (anyone else?)…what I believed to be very efficient…😱

Then my team grew and spread across the region (APAC where I used to live at that time); and 1:1s became the only time for my team members and I to really exchange. If I wanted to develop and maintain our relationships, I needed to evolve my 1:1s and include ‘small talks’. Later with Covid, remote working, growing anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion, it became VITAL for my team and I to start all our meetings with longer and more meaningful ‘small talks’. 

Nowadays ‘’small talks’’ have evolved. They have became wellbeing check-ins. They are now essential to develop open and trusted relationships but also to check in on employee’s wellbeing and detect any potential mental health needs within your team. 

👉 Here are three simple tips to integrate wellbeing check-in into 1:1s💪

Before: Prep some questions

Especially if you are novice and not comfortable getting personal. Questions like How are you? How do you feel this week? How are you adjusting to hybrid work? How is your work-ĺife balance? followed by Tell me more will work pretty well to start. In less than a month, you will be a natural. 

During:  Listen (really!) and share

Reduce distractions (computer, phone, notifications 😱), with empathy and kindness be truly present for your reportee. 1:1s are about your direct reports but by showing vulnerability and getting personal too, you encourage them to open up and express issues. 

After: Follow up

Follow up is crucial to build trust and show you care about them. If you talked…

…about work-related stressors (e.g. workload) Take action, 

…about family matters (e.g sick parent), Inquire after them, 

…about mental health issues, Connect them to helpful resources…


To add on a few other tips: 

💡 Don’t postpone 1:1s with your team members and don’t be late. Being on time shows them that they are their priority! Postponing at the last minute especially several time will on the other hand be interpreted as a lack of respect, care and value…😱

💡You find the transitions from personal talk to business talk weird – No worries! (Everyone including me does!), a simple Thanks for sharing/Let me know how it goes, should we move to the agenda items? would do. Again in less than a month you will be a natural.  

💡Don’t hesitate to take notes! It may sound unprofessional but you can not remember everything especially if you have a large team and if you are just starting to get to know your team. If you can remember (with some support like your notes) your team member’s partner and children names, their holiday destinations, important milestones both personal and professional (like an important presentation), they will truly appreciate, feel valued and considered as a person. 

💡Last remember you are not a therapist. You are here to listen, be empathetic and caring but can not for your own sake carry on all your team members’ issues. Thank them for coming to you with their issues, say you appreciate their trust, acknowledge the troubles they are going through – AND – provide resources, encourage them to talk to professionals and offer them to set up follow up with them.. 

While I initially thought beginning my 1:1s with personal conversations and wellbeing check ins would be difficult and painful knowing my rather doer mindset … actually happened very naturally and filled me with positive feelings. So if I can do it – you certainly can! 


Want to share best practices on how you start your 1:1s, get in touch with me


Take care 


Follow me on linked in ( and instagram (

#wellbeing #wellbeingatwork #bienetreautravail #bienetre

Share it!

Read more

Fill in the form!

Book a 30-minute free intro meeting