Don't Forget The Praise!
One of the most important meetings I host regularly is my one-on-one meetings with my team members. I have a few suggestions to help your one-on-one meetings be highly effective.
First, I use a loose agenda. I always start with a greeting and then ask how the person is doing, what they did over the weekend, etc. I like to demonstrate a sincere interest in their lives. This can be overdone, so make sure to watch for signs that you're asking for too much information. You want to build rapport, not interrogate them.
Next, I have a few general topics to cover. I like to check in on their progress regarding their goals, ask them how work is going, ask if they have any suggestions for process improvement, and ask if there is anything I can do to serve them better. You don't have to ask all these questions each time, but you should touch on them regularly.
The meeting length can be crucial to a successful one-on-one. I cannot stand it when I'm only given 25 minutes with my leader. By the time you get through the greetings and "how was your weekend?", half the meeting is over. I recommend starting with 50 to 60 minutes. If your team member consistently doesn't need that much time, you can ask them about shortening the meeting.
Finally, here's my new tip that I just organically started doing without thinking about it that hard. If appropriate, end with sincere, specific praise. When a recent one-on-one meeting I was hosting was coming to an end, I felt moved to tell a team member about how well they were doing by citing a few recent examples of behaviors I appreciated and the work they had accomplished. I could tell that this had a very positive impact on them. Since then, I have made a point to occasionally end one-on-one meetings by praising specific accomplishments or behaviors. I try not to overdo it. Forcing a "praise trailer" on each meeting would dilute the meaning of it.
People like to know they are doing well. All too often we spend time talking about what needs to be done and how to improve. We should all take time with others and ourselves to recall what we have accomplished and what we are doing well. A little sincere praise can go a long way in improving morale, building rapport, and retaining talent.
For more of my thoughts on one-on-one meetings, see my other post here: https://blog.dougdawson.info/tips-for-effective-one-on-one-meetings