Survey

Survey: How Engineering Teams Around The World Run 1-on-1 Meetings

In this survey report by the Vectorly team, you’ll find the latest info on how engineering teams around the world (Brasil, Asia, USA, UK, Canada) perform 1-on-1 meetings. 275 people shared what team management problems they face; how do they prepare for 1-on-1 meetings and how much does it take; what’s the specifics of holding 1-on-1 meetings in different countries. Read our full report for insightful details.

Survey by: https://www.vectorly.team/

Published on 2021/09/05

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Short summary

In this survey report by the Vectorly team, you’ll find the latest info on how engineering teams around the world (Brasil, Asia, USA, UK, Canada) perform 1-on-1 meetings.

275 people shared what team management problems they face; how do they prepare for 1-on-1 meetings and how much does it take; what’s the specifics of holding 1-on-1 meetings in different countries. Read our full report for insightful details.

Key findings

  • A huge number of managers don’t prepare an agenda before 1-on-1 meetings and tend to improvise regardless of the size of their team
  • For large teams, skills development topic is at the forefront during a 1-on-1 discussion
  • Teams of up to 10 people 30% more often discuss issues related to working processes
  • Teams experience similar difficulties when holding 1-on-1 meetings regardless of their size
  • In the US, more than half of engineering managers run 1:1 meetings weekly and more than 80% hold them every 2 weeks. There is no such rate anywhere else in the world.
  • In Brasil, 1.5x times as many respondents indicated that preparation for 1:1 takes an awfully long time
  • 66% more respondents from Asia indicated that they do not know what to ask or how to structure a conversation effectively
  • UK managers pay most attention to developer's skill development and less to a discussion of performance

Contents:

About the survey

A month ago, we launched a survey to find out how engineering teams around the world hold 1-on-1 meetings and what problems they face.

275 engineering managers took part in the survey from the following countries:

  • Brazil (44,5%)
  • Asia - Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan (10,9%)
  • USA (19%)
  • UK (12%)
  • Canada (13,5%)

We interviewed people from engineering teams of different sizes - from 1-5 to 20+ team members. Find more detailed info on the chart below.

Respondents by the region
Respondents by the region
Our respondents’ engineering team sizes
Our respondents’ engineering team sizes

The aim of the survey was to find out answers to the following questions:

  • Issue 1. What team management problems do engineering teams experience?
  • Issue 2. What are the main difficulties during preparation for 1-on-1 meetings? How do engineering managers prepare for 1-on-1 meetings with their engineering team and how much time does it take?
  • Issue 3. What are the specifics of holding and preparation for 1-on-1s in different countries around the world?

In the next part of the report, you’ll find the most common problems engineering managers face when running 1-on-1s with their teams.

Issue 1. What team management problems do engineering teams experience?

Managing an engineering team is no easy task, for sure. But what are the specific difficulties? Here is what the survey showed:

Team management problems
Team management problems

1-on-1 meetings are a great way to solve these problems. Engineering teams around the world use this practice on a regular basis. Yet there are several challenges that they face when preparing and holding these meetings.

Issue 2. What are the main difficulties during preparation for 1-on-1 meetings?

As we found out, lots of managers aren’t happy with how a prep process for these meetings is organized. Among the main things that make respondents unhappy about their 1-on-1 meetings are the following problems.

Preparation problems

The survey also uncovered some interesting insights on how engineering managers prepare for 1-on-1 meetings and other issues related to this practice. Check their answers in the charts below.

Q: How do you prepare for one-on-one meetings?

Key insights:

  • Managers tend to improvise regardless of the size of their team
  • Teams with 20+ members are 33% more likely to rely on colleagues feedback when preparing for a 1:1
  • Teams with 20+ members are 35% more likely to use Git data when preparing 1-on-1 meetings agenda
  • As the team scales, managers are less likely to prepare agenda for the meeting
How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?
How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?
How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?
How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?

Q: Why do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?

Key insights:

  • For teams with 20+ members, employee motivation and development are important reasons to hold 1-on-1 meetings
  • Teams with 10+ members are almost 2 times less likely to discuss working task planning and working task retrospective during 1-on-1s
Why do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?
Why do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?
Why do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?
Why do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?

Q: What topics do you discuss during 1-on-1 meetings?

Key insights:

  • For large teams, skills development is at the forefront during a meeting discussion
  • Larger teams tend to discuss employee motivation more often than the smaller ones
  • In teams with 20+ members, working tasks are discussed 2.5 times less often than in smaller teams
  • In teams with 5-10 members, employees discuss HR-related issues with their manager 1.5 times more often
  • Teams of up to 10 people 30% more often discuss issues related to the organization of work and processes. The result might be connected with the imperfect organizational processes of small teams.
What topics do you discuss?
What topics do you discuss?
Discussion topics according to the country
Discussion topics according to the country

Q: What is the hardest part of a 1-on-1 meeting?

Key insight:

  • Teams experience similar difficulties when holding 1-on-1 meetings regardless of their size
What is the hardest part in 1-on-1s?
What is the hardest part of 1-on-1s?
What is the hardest part in 1-on-1s?
What is the hardest part of 1-on-1s?

Q: How much time do you spend on 1-on-1 meetings per week?

Key insights:

  • The smaller the team, the less time a manager spends on holding meetings
  • At the same time, small teams tend to hold meetings more often - every week or 2 times a month
How much time do you spend on 1-on-1 meetings per week?
How much time do you spend on 1-on-1 meetings per week?
How much time do you spend on 1-on-1 meetings per week?
How much time do you spend on 1-on-1 meetings per week?

Q: How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?

Key insights:

  • The bigger the team, the longer the interval between the meetings conducted with an employee
  • 20+ teams are likely to hold 1-on-1 meetings quarterly or on request
How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?
How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?
How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?
How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?

Now we have an understanding of what are the main difficulties engineering managers experience when preparing for 1-on-1 meetings with their teams.

Now let's find out in more detail about the specifics of holding meetings in different countries around the world.

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Issue 3. What are the specifics of holding and preparation for 1-on-1s in different countries?

In this part, we’ll take a closer look at the differences and uniqueness of holding 1-on-1 meetings depending on the country.

Brasil

Here's Top 3 insights from our research about Brazilian engineering managers.

Insight #1. Skill development is the most important topic.

In Brasil, the highest emphasis is on developing skills and motivating developers.

Discussion topics according to the country
Discussion topics according to the country

Insight #2. Preparing agenda is a time killer.

In Brasil, 1.5x times as many respondents indicated that preparation for 1:1 takes an awfully long time.

What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?
What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?

Insight #3. Feedback from coworkers is important.

Brasil is 33% more likely to seek feedback from peers to discuss during one-to-one.

How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?
How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?

Asia

Here's Top 3 insights from our research about engineering managers in Asian region (HK, Taiwan, Singapore).

Insight #1. Managers run 1:1 to remove bottlenecks.

In Asian region, more attention is paid to discussing flaws and problems related to the work process.

Discussion topics according to the country
Discussion topics according to the country

Insight #2. Hard to break the ice.

66% more respondents indicated that they do not know what to ask or how to structure a conversation effectively.

What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?
What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?

Insight #3. Monthly 1-on-1s are popular.

Most managers have a one-on-one meeting once a month, the same pattern found only in Brazil.

How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings according to the country?
How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings according to the country?

USA

Here's Top 3 insights from our research about engineering managers in the US.

Insight #1. Weekly or biweekly 1-on-1 meetings.

In the US, more than half of engineering managers run 1:1 meetings weekly and more than 80% hold them every 2 weeks. There is no such rate anywhere else in the world.

How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings according to the country?
How often do you hold 1-on-1 meetings according to the country?

Insight #2. Use Git to prepare the agenda.

The U.S. is 83% more likely to use Git data when preparing 1-on-1 meetings agenda.

How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?
How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?

Insight #3. Time spent per week on 1-on-1.

Engineering managers spend more time in one-on-one meetings than managers in other regions.

Time spent per week on 1-on-1 according to the country
Time spent per week on 1-on-1 according to the country

UK

Here's Top 3 insights from our research about engineering managers in the UK.

Insight #1. 1-on-1s without agenda.

In the UK, 1.5 times as many respondents said that they found it difficult to run impromptu one-on-one meetings.

What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?
What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?

Insight #2. Remote 1-on-1s.

In the UK 64% more respondents indicated that it is difficult for them to hold meetings remotely.

What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?
What is the hardest in 1-on-1 according to a country?

Insight #3. Performance is rarely discussed.

UK managers pay most attention to developer's skill development and less to a discussion of performance.

Discussion topics according to the country
Discussion topics according to the country

Canada

Here's Top 3 insights from our research about engineering managers in the Canada.

Insight #1. 1-on-1s without agenda.

In Canada, engineering managers run 28% more one-on-one meetings without agenda.

How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?
How do you prepare for 1:1 meetings according to a country?

Insight #2. Discussing HR.

In Canada, developers discuss HR-related issues with their managers twice as often as in other regions.

Discussion topics according to the country
Discussion topics according to the country

Insight #3. Skill development is important.

Engineering teams are 20% more likely than the average for other countries to discuss skill development plan.

Why do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?
Why do you hold 1-on-1 meetings?

Conclusion

This survey showed how engineering teams around the world run 1-on-1 meetings and the problems they face.

To solve this problem we created Vectorly, so engineering teams could run 1:1 meetings with agenda & recommendations they don’t need to prepare.

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