How People Leaders can use 1:1’s to Develop and Retain Talent

By Bill Dickinson, D. Min, RCC

Senior Consultant

Keeping, celebrating, and developing talent is the foundation of people leadership. Employees who work for us want to be challenged and valued. Yes, they also want to be recognized. Every employee and colleague come with their own skill sets. As people leaders, ours is to discover and uncover the very best within everyone; and even those whom we feel want to do the bare bones.

May I suggest we get back to the basics. Facilitating consistent, empathic, and supportive 1:1’s enables a people leader to learn as well as provide guidance and direction. The key here is in the questions we ask. So, in order to really understand fit and energy and potential we self-disclose and we ask.


Framing Your Questions to Retain and Develop Talent

I want to better lead, support, and develop you in order to ensure you are fulfilled and engaged here at our company. I need to up my own game in demonstrating my commitment to you (and the team). So, as I nuance my approach with you be patient and help me to learn as well.

Questions for Consideration:

1. Talk to me about what most excites you about your role? [Validate as appropriate].

2. What in your work is feeling rewarding? But help me understand what may feel draining or even boring?

3. I can share with you 3 skills/competencies that are clearly yours—you shine. Before I do, what do you believe are your 3 strongest competencies? [Be prepared to share those skills/competencies and why].

4. What would you like to try or do differently in your role? Something that might stretch or invigorate you—even in another department?

5. What am I missing in my support of you? Is there a skill you want to elevate?

6. How can I help you create 2 professional development opportunities, and even a time frame?

7. I’d like to better recognize you (and our team) for your vital work. What are your preferences for recognition, please?



Let the answers inform and even challenge you, as a leader. Make a commitment to do your best to understand, validate, and empower this team member. Be creative with options. Talk to a peer about what they provide for growth and development. Hold yourself accountable and find this to be an opportunity for your own credibility as a people leader. Anything you need from your own leader? Good Luck.

Bill Dickinson’s Bio