3 coaching conversations for managers (with meeting agendas)

September 22, 2021

Colleagues having a one-to-one meeting

One of the most common management mistakes is failing to recognise that everyone has unique strengths, values and working preferences. A one-size-fits-all approach to management just doesn’t work.

In this article, we outline three key conversations that managers should have with their employees to get the best out of every person in their team.

The conversations that result in happy, high-performing teams aren’t always easy but with our tips and templates any manager can lead with confidence.

Top Tips

  • We encourage these conversations to be reciprocal – with both parties sharing and asking questions of each other. 
  • Practice your active listening skills so that you can help your employees identify themes. 
  • Be curious and ask questions. The templates below provide a great structure for these conversations but you don’t need to follow it like a script.
  • Allow one hour for each of these conversations.

1. Discussing Our Strengths

When was the last time you talked about strengths? As a manager, have you had a meaningful discussion about your employee’s strengths in the last three months? If not, book some time in. 

Why is this important?

According to Gallup, whether you’ve had a meaningful discussion about your employee’s strengths in the last three months is a strong predictor of employee engagement and performance.

That’s because when managers are committed to building their employees’ strengths, employees feel cared for and feel that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. In fact, employees who use their strengths every day have a 50% higher retention rate, according to Marcus Buckingham.

How do I do it?

Preparation: You should give your direct report time to prepare for this conversation. Let them know that you’d like to have a one-to-one meeting to understand their strengths and how they can get the most out of them. 

Template: Add the following talking points to the agenda for your next one-to-one and share it in advance.

  1. Share your top 3 strengths and discuss how they show up at work.
  2. How would a close friend or family member describe your strengths? Notice how this is similar or different from the strengths you picked.
  3. How have these strengths changed throughout your career? Think of previous jobs and the strengths you applied.
  4. How I see your strengths… Discuss the strengths that you see in each other.
  5. In the context of current priorities, how could we use your strengths more at work?

If you’re using Saberr…

If you’re using Saberr, simply apply the Discovering Our Strengths template to your next one-to-one. Your direct report will be asked to prepare by completing a 5-minute personality and strengths survey in preparation. You’ll both have access to the results in your meeting. Here is mine...

Saberr's Personal Profiles

2. Discovering Our Values

Values are core motivations that represent what we believe to be right. We all have values and there’s no right or wrong value but these deeply held principles guide our choices and influence our emotions.

Why is this important?

Becoming more aware of your values can help you become more comfortable with their decisions and more aware of how you come across to others.

Once you’re familiar with your own values, recognising how they differ to others’ in your team helps you get to know each other and builds trust resulting in improved collaboration.

How do I do it?

Preparation: As before, you should give your direct report time to prepare. Let them know that you’d like to have a one-to-one meeting to get to know each other better and to understand each others’ drivers and motivations.

Template: Add the following talking points to the agenda for your next one-to-one and share it in advance.

  1. Share your top values and discuss how they show up at work.
  2. Discuss the origin of your values and the reasons they are important to you.
  3. Are you living life in a way that supports those values right now?
  4. Have you ever felt that you have been made to compromise your personal values? What impact did that have on you?
  5. Do you feel your personal values are well aligned with the values of this organisation?
  6. What action can you take to live a life that was closer to your values?
  7. How do the differences and similarities in our values show up in the way we work together?
  8. What’s one thing you've each learnt about the other person and one thing you'll do differently going forward in light of this conversation?

If you’re using Saberr…

If you’re using Saberr, simply apply the Discovering Our Values template to your next one-to-one. Your direct report will be asked to prepare by completing a 5 minute values survey. You’ll both have access to the results in your meeting.

Saberr's Personal Profiles



3. Sharing Our Working Preferences  

Imagine that you were writing a user manual about yourself, or a guide on how to keep you happy and get the best out of you at work. That’s what this third key conversation is about. 

Why is this important?

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, my working style might be quite different to yours. Making this explicit and learning about each other’s preferences can avoid lots of misunderstandings and increase our empathy, even if we can’t meet each other’s needs one hundred percent of the time.

How do I do it?

Preparation: Once again, give your direct report time to prepare. Let them know that you’d like to have a one-to-one meeting to get to know each other better and share the agenda beforehand so that they can reflect ahead of time. 

Template: Add the following talking points to the agenda:

  1. I’m most productive when...
  2. I prefer to communicate via...
  3. The best way to give me feedback and recognition is...
  4. When I’m stressed...
  5. I can be misunderstood when...
  6. At work I care about...
  7. My red buttons are...
  8. I want to be better at...
  9. I like to treat myself by...

If you’re using Saberr…

If you’re using Saberr, simply apply the Working Preferences template to your next one-to-one. Your direct report will be asked to prepare by completing their personal profile ahead of time . You’ll have access to each other’s profiles in the meeting.

Saberr's Personal Profiles

one-to-one meeting agenda templates

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Two male team members having a meeting