Hearing about one on ones was like someone gave me a torch and I could see clearly for the first time in a long time. I really believe in the system and implemented it in my company of 4 people (including me) at the earliest opportunity. I think there have been lots of positives out of it, but I am starting to flounder a little bit and could use some direction.

One relates to notes. There seems so little to take notes on when I meet with my people. I take brief notes on anything personal they raise, but I am honestly struggling to find things to take notes on for their 10 minutes. Right now, the biggest thing I want out of this is improved communication, and it's getting better, but I feel like, especially at the moment with us all in lockdown, we are struggling for stuff to talk about that is much different from what we are already talking about in our day to day stuff.  I do take notes for things to follow up on, one of my staff has raised particular things, and I used those, but I have found that 2 of the 6 weeks there was stuff to write down like that, the rest of the time, seemed more like a general chinwag. 

I have been using the downloaded forms, and I ask some of the questions, but the responses don't usually seem noteworthy.

Does anyone have any notes they could sanitize that might give me an example of how my notes "should" look? (sorry I know, that is a kind of daft thing to request).

One staff member made the point they feel that meeting once a week was too often. I think I stay the course, but his comment was that there didn't seem enough to chat about weekly given all the other communication we already do.


Thanks in advance for any tips.



sdprice's picture
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Hi networkn.

I was once a digital note-taker, but I have valued the advice to do written notes.

I use a single piece of paper for each meeting -- often it is jambpacked, but occasionally not so. During the week, as things occur to me that I want to chat about with each person, I grab the notebook where I have the next sheet for them and I start "my list" at the top of the page. I need a better system, since when they go first, I need to re-write my items underneath my notes on their points.

During the O3, I write down some great reminders for myself. If they speak about a child, or partner, or an upcoming vacation, I write short notes about this down. I was always wondering why my dentist would remember where I worked and other personal things I shared with them and then I realized that the dental assistant made notes about what I shared (always with my mouth half open and a tool or two sticking out) while in the dentist chair. For any action items for me, I flag them with an empty square in the margin to quickly flag them.

On Fridays, as part of my Getting Things Done (GTD) weekly mindsweep, I scan all of the O3 notes to see if there are any actions I have not yet scheduled or added to my to do list. For those directs who I am now doing some coaching with, I use (as per MT guidance) the back of the sheet for the notes specific to the coaching conversations. I hope this helps. I would like to hear from others as I can always learn new ways of capturing notes too.

From Calgary.

Steve Price

James22's picture
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Are you using like a padfolio where you rip out the sheet for each direct and then file it? Or does each direct have their own notebook that you use? If so, what notebook are you using?

sdprice's picture
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Hi James22,

I use the Blueline MiracleBind notebooks. I use the 9 1/4 x 7 1/4 size. I have a different notebook for each of my directs, and I use another for my general notes. The pages are repositiobable so that if I not have a person's book with me, I can write on a new page in any notebook and easily move the sheet over.

I am exploring the possible use of Rocketbook, which allows for scanning of the notes into a digital document -- to allow for archiving and long-term storage.



James22's picture
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I have tried and tried to use different Moleskine (and other types) journal-style notebooks....but I always come back to my trusty leather padfolio. I use Levenger paper with the built-in Cornell system. Then, after a general meeting or O3, I take out that sheet and put it into a file. I'm good at adding the action items to my task management software (I use Google Tasks) but I'm not sure how to keep the O3 info available to me as easily. Once I file an O3 sheet it is "out of sight, out of mind". Maybe, I should simply create a running Google Doc for each direct and put the main points from each O3 into that digital file just like I do for my Tasks. Some O3's are a half-page or less, sometimes more. The Google Doc could look something like below:


  • Mother is retiring. He's worried about what she'll do with all free time.
  • Son away at bball camp.
  • Having trouble with Project ABC. I gave him an option of Y or Z to get started. He's going to try Y and get back to me.

Just the main points. At least, that way I can refer to them more easily.'s picture


It's not that I don't have something to take notes in, I am not sure what to notes 'of'.

Even during our 1:1's which I have paused for now, what the staff are discussing with me, doesn't really seem 'noteworthy'.

Basically our meetings consist of the them, then me sections, but at the end of the meetings I have next to nothing written down, and I am not really getting anything much during the week between 1:1's to note down to talk about.

I guess I was just after some ideas on what type of stuff you are recording. Filing mostly empty sheets week after week, probably isn't much good.



justinpaullawrence's picture
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You will have a lot of empty space. That's pretty normal, especially at a smaller firm where you're in the same space a lot. There will just be less suprises then if you had spend the whole week not seeing them.

The most important thing that I document in on my 03 sheets is feedback given. F^ or Fv is the notation I use. This helps for HR and legal documentation. 

The second part is that actually writing down what they're saying helps me remember. I especially like this as I often harvest O3 items for my own reports up the chain or in annual reporting.

I've also found that asking the "overall, how's it going?" question in this space at least every other month leads really naturally into career conversations about direction or additional training.

Do keep it up. It took me about a year to really see the benefits. Plus, if your firm grows, you'll have this baked into the DNA as it expands.


vwelch's picture
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I wouldn't worry about what your notes should look like. Besides capturing any action items or things you want to follow up on at the next one-on-one, I don't think the rest really matters (with exceptions for times you are getting into HR situations).

The issue you seem to be wrestling with is getting folks to communicate with you. Some thoughts on that:

  • I have a homegrown form I use and I start a new form for each person after each O3. That way I can write down "Carry Over" items from the last meeting and add items for discussion, feedback, or questions over the course of the week as they come up (this is the bottom part of the form). For example:
    • FB+ (positive feedback) on presentation at staff meeting
    • How is risk assessment of [System A] going?
    • Ask about communications with [Person T] - any better?
    • FB- late for [Project Q] meeting on 7/19
    • Ask about budget for [Project R] - on track?
  • During the week, I try not to interupt my staff with issues that can wait until the next O3. If a staff member starts interupting me a lot during the week with things that can wait until the next O3, I will start giving feedback on that.
  • Capture anything personal they mention - names, activities, etc. These are great things to follow up on the next week - e.g. how did the visit from your parents go? how was [your daughter's] performance?
  • Capture new activities, challenges, etc. and then follow up on these the next week by asking how they are going (I call these Carry Overs). For things more than a week into the future or long-running things, I'll use a post-it note to capture it so I can move it from O3 to O3 form easily.
  • Be sure to share some yourself to set an example. E.g. Just to let you know, my sister will be visiting next week so I won't be reading email as much in the evenings - feel free to call if something urgent comes up. Or, [Wife's name] and I are going to be starting a garen this weekend, so I'll be completely offline.

To answer your question, here are some notes I remember taking over the last week:

  • On PTO Friday ([Son's name] going to state tawkwondo competition - Carry Over [Ask how son did])
  • Finished system risk assessment for [System A] (FB+ =gave positive feedback)
  • Working on [Project A] - [plan A] didn't work, trying [plan B] (Carry Over)
  • Started [Proposal for my boss]. Will send draft next week. (Carry Over)
  • [Person X] still not happy with dashboard results. Gave advice on compromising. (Carry Over)
  • Action item: Talk to [Person Y] above inviting [direct] to meeting on [Project Z]



Jollymom's picture

Hi @networkn

You may want to try At-a-Glance report - this is just a one page report having 3 main areas. You can place notes in here and be able to see the updates, progress and recommendations on a weekly basis. 

This helped me a lot in keeping up with all the tasks at hand and be able to communicate the updates, progress and recomms to each member of the team through this "At-a-Glance" Report. 

Hope it helps.