How to Run an Effective 1–2–1 Meeting as a First-Time Marketing Leader

Robert Gillespie
2 min readMay 3, 2022

Over the last seven years, I’ve led three different marketing teams ranging in size from 3 to 21 people.

And one area that’s had a huge positive impact on my relationship with those working on my team is how I ran their individual 1–2–1s.

Keep it simple. Stop overcomplicating.

The problem I find with most 1–2–1s is that line managers try to blend a performance-related meeting about KPIs or OKRs with a relationship-building type meeting.

And for me, this hybrid approach doesn’t work. These two meeting types should be completely separate.

So for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on the relationship-building type of meeting.

And I simply call that a 1–2–1.

There’s no better investment of your time…

Over the years I’ve cherry-picked advice and lessons on how to run an effective 1–2–1 from books like the ‘Coaching Habit’ and from CEOs I admire like David Cancel from Drift.

I’ve then combined that information with my own thoughts to settle on a 1–2–1 structure that seems to work well.

And I genuinely believe there’s no better investment of your time with your team.

7 Quick Tips for Running an Effective 1–2–1…

🗓 Schedule a recurring invite for the 1–2–1 every week or fortnight — depending on the size of your team …

Be clear from the very first 1–2–1 you have with them, that this is THEIR meeting…

🤐 Let them know it’s perfectly fine to cancel the meeting if they have nothing to chat about. Ideally, you don’t want to skip more than one…but the meeting should not be forced on them…

🔥 Let them know you want to invest in their growth — encourage them to share their roadblocks and obstacles to see how you can help them…

👥 There is no agenda. It shouldn’t be a highly structured meeting or a note-taking exercise — it’s more of a check-in and open conversation…so DO NOT turn up with your laptop or notepad sitting open ready to take notes…

☕️ Mix up the location or setting for your 1–2–1’s. Pre-covid I used to enjoy a walk to the local coffee shop and back or a walk outside around the building. These were great for making the meeting feel relaxed…and it really does help them to open up…

❓ If they are not opening up, then ask some simple open questions like — What’s on your mind? And what else? What’s the real challenge for you here? How can I help? If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?

Read this post and more on my Typeshare Social Blog



Robert Gillespie

I write about Digital Entrepreneurship, Marketing and @Notionhq | Currently Vice President of Marketing @JPMorgan Chase | UK Entrepreneur of The Year final