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A 10 Minute Formula for Better 1:1s

A 10 Minute Formula for Better 1:1s

Miranda Knudson
Marketing Strategist

We all know that one-on-one meetings are an essential part of building relationships at work and ensuring that teams are on the same page. 

But it's not always easy to truly connect during these meetings, and sometimes the conversation can feel forced, unproductive, or just plain awkward. 

That's where the 10-10-10 framework comes in. It's a simple yet powerful approach that ensures each meeting is focused, engaging, and time-efficient. 

So, what's the secret behind those numbers?

The 10-10-10 Framework

A simple way to avoid making your one-on-one meeting unnecessarily uncomfortable is to add more structure.

One way to do this is to follow the 10-10-10 model. The idea behind this framework is to divide the meeting conversation into three parts, each lasting 10 minutes. 

My experience using 10-10-10

When we first started using the 10-10-10 model in our 1:1 meetings at Headway, I noticed that our conversations were more focused and meaningful.

Instead of spending the first several minutes of the meeting fumbling around about what was important to chat about, and running the risk of veering drastically off-topic, this framework helped us refine our conversation and be able to cover more ground with more purpose. 

It’s also important to note:

Not all of our 1:1s are 10-10-10 style meetings.

Some conversations start organically, or an important project or issue will take the bulk of our meeting time, leaving other topics to be tabled, but this framework is a great tool to fall back on.

Here’s what the 10-10-10 model looks like in action.

The first 10: personal check-in

The first 10 minutes of your one-on-one meeting should be dedicated to building rapport and fostering a personal connection. Start by asking open-ended questions about your team member's well-being, interests, and recent achievements. This helps create a friendly and supportive atmosphere, making your team member feel valued and motivated.

The second 10: professional progress

Now that you've established a personal connection, it's time to dive into the professional aspects. Use the next 10 minutes to discuss your team member's progress, challenges, and goals. Listen actively and offer guidance or feedback where necessary. This segment allows you to address any roadblocks, align expectations, and ensure everyone is on the same page regarding objectives.

The final 10: future focus

In the last 10 minutes, shift gears and encourage your team member to think ahead. Discuss future aspirations, growth opportunities, and areas where they'd like to explore and expand their skills. This forward-looking approach creates a sense of purpose and empowers your team member to take ownership of their professional journey.

two coworkers having a one on one meeting in a coworking space

Making the most of 10-10-10

To truly maximize the benefits of this framework, it's important to embrace a few key principles:

Be present

Dedicate your full attention to the person in front of you during the meeting. Put away distractions and show genuine interest.

Active listening

Practice active listening techniques, such as summarizing, clarifying, and asking follow-up questions. This fosters trust, encourages open communication, and ensures that important points aren't overlooked.


While the 10-10-10 framework provides a solid structure, be open to veering off course if necessary. Sometimes, the best conversations happen spontaneously, and it's important to allow room for that organic flow.

Actionable Takeaways: End each meeting with actionable takeaways and clear next steps. This ensures accountability and follow-through, transforming your discussions into tangible outcomes.

a designer expressing his opinion in a meeting

Benefits for founders and teams

The 10-10-10 framework is like a secret sauce for folks hustling in the fast-paced world of startups and tech.

Alignment and growth

Regularly discussing professional progress and future aspirations allows you to align individual goals with the company's vision, promoting growth and career development.

Relationship building

The personal check-in segment helps foster strong connections, boosting team morale and overall satisfaction.

Culture of trust

The framework encourages open and transparent communication, leading to a culture of trust and psychological safety within your team.

Enhanced productivity

By maintaining a structured approach, you'll make the most of your limited time, ensuring that each meeting delivers value.

Find what works for you

One-on-one meetings are an important opportunity to build relationships with your team members and ensure that everyone is working together towards a common goal.

While the 10-10-10 model is a great starting point for structuring your one-on-one meetings, it may not work for everyone. The key is to find what works for you and your team. 

Experiment with different structures and formats until you find something that helps you connect with your employees and have productive conversations.


The current known origin of 10-10-10 meeting framework is by Mike Cohn and Mark Mortensen of Manager-Tools.com.

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