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One-to-one work dialogue – information for managers

A one-to-one work dialogue is a planned, systematic and personal interview between an employee and a manager. As a manager you have the main responsibility for planning and conducting one-to-one work dialogues. Employees are required to prepare and contribute to the implementation.

Are you an employee? See separate information about one-to-one work dialogue for employees.

The one-to-one work dialogue at UiO

  • In its personnel policy platform, UiO emphasises systematic follow-up of the individual employee through, among other things, regular one-to-one work dialogues. The purpose of the one-to-one work dialogue is to create a better basis for accomplishments and a good working environment.
  • The one-to-one work dialogue deals with the work situation and should be used as a tool for planning and development. The ambition is to promote mutual trust and openness, good communication and good collaboration so that the individual is best able to perform their tasks.
  • Managers can use the one-to-one work dialogue to map the resources and situation of their unit and in this way the one-to-one work dialogue will be a useful tool for planning and developing the individual entity.
  • There is no set procedure for how one-to-one work dialogues are carried out but UiO has prepared an interview form as support and guidance for preparing and conducting one-to-one work dialogues, see the below section on preparations. The one-to-one work dialogueis a supplement to the ongoing dialogue between the employee and the manager.
  • The interview is conducted with the immediate manager with responsibility for personnel or the person to whom the immediate manager has delegated the responsibility.

Preparations for the one-to-one work dialogue

  • Set aside time for the interview
    The one-to-one work dialogue should be scheduled well in advance and last 1-2 hours. You are responsible for giving notice of the one-to-one work dialogue. In order for the interview to be perceived as meaningful, it is important that both parties come prepared. Make your interview partner aware that there is a separate website about one-to-one work dialogues for employees.
  • Location of the interview
    Choose the location of the interview wisely. Find a room that is sheltered from disturbances while contributing to a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Preparations for both parties
    In support of the preparation, UiO's one-to-one work dialogue form can be used. There are separate interview forms for academic staff (word)research fellows (word) and technical and administrative staff (word), respectively. The forms contain relatively few standardised questions for each topic. Therefore, it may be a good idea to review the more comprehensive sample questions for each topic in the section below and note the ones that seem most appropriate and inspiring for the upcoming conversation. The sample questions are also collected on a separate webpage.
  • Your personal preparation as manager
    In preparation for the one-to-one work dialogue, the manager may benefit from asking himself/herself the following questions: 
    • What do I want to achieve with this one-to-one work dialogue?
    • What are the employee's distinctive qualities and strengths?
    • What have I noticed that the employee has done that have really been constructive contributions to the organisation? Why have these been important contributions?
    • What would I like the employee to endeavour to do more of (or differently)?
    • How will the employee notice that I have registered that developments are moving in the desired direction going forward?
    • How do I assess the employee's work effort?
    • What do I think motivates the employee?
    • Does the employee have the right conditions to carry out their tasks?
    • What expectations do I myself have of the employee?
    • What do I think are the strengths and weaknesses of the employee? Do these match their areas of responsibility?
    • Does the employee have any particular challenges?
    • If I think that some topics will be difficult to talk about, what approach should I choose and when in the interview will I address them?

How a one-to-one work dialogue is conducted

During the interview, you and your employee will discuss the following topics:

1. Follow-up and the conclusions of the previous one-to-one work dialogue

If you have had a one-to-one work dialogue with each other before, it is natural to look at what has happened in the meantime. Proceed from the conclusions you agreed on at the previous one-to-one work dialogue. When the employee talks about his or her tasks, you can also add feedback on the employees contributions to the goals of the department/unit. Appreciative feedback is especially important early in the conversation. 


Examples of questions

  • What did you agree on at the previous one-to-one work dialogue and what has been achieved in relation to this?
  • What has not been achieved?
  • Why?
  • How do you view your own efforts over the past year?

2. Tasks

Talk about the employee's tasks as well as their prioritisation, and discuss any wishes for changed tasks. View the tasks in light of the department's, faculty's or division's goals. Clarify your understanding of the employee's work and your expectations as a leader. What are important/less important tasks? How should the work be carried out in the best possible way? More in-depth feedback can be given from the manager. 

Examples of questions

  • How do you see your work area and your tasks in the context of your department's/organisation's goals?
  • Are you satisfied with your duties, responsibilities and authority?
  • Alternatively: Do you want it to be clearer?
  • In what areas can you do a better job? Are there any special circumstances that are preventing you from doing this?
  • To what extent are you satisfied with your own efforts?
  • What are you most satisfied with when performing your job?
  • What are you least satisfied with when performing your job?
  • Is the time you spend on the individual tasks what you had planned?
  • What tasks should be emphasised in the coming year?
  • Is the distribution of tasks sensible or should it be changed, if so how?
  • Do you have suggestions for changes or improvements to your work routines at the organisational unit? What are they?
  • Would you like to have other tasks in the short/long term?
  • What plans and goals are important to set for the next period?

3. Management

The purpose in this section is to look at the relationship between manager and employee. In the employees opinion, what works well in your management? What are the employee´s needs when it comes to management? What input has the employee on how you can support and follow up in the best way possible?

Examples of questions

  • Do you get the necessary follow-up from me?
  • What are your expectations when it comes to leadership?
  • How does it work discussing you tasks and work situation and with me?
  • How do I follow up and support you in the best way possible?

4. Working environment and collaboration

Working environment shall be included as a topic in the one-to-one work dialogue. Here, both parties should express their views. How does the employee get along with colleagues and other staff? How do you work together? Specific wishes and complaints should be discussed both in relation to the psychosocial and physical working environment. What we can do to improve the situation? 

Note: UiO does not accept any form of harassment. The one-to-one work dialogue can be an important tool for revealing whether an employee experiences being harassed. If an employee experiences inappropriate behaviour, an assessment must be made of the severity and whether there is a need to convene a separate meeting to delve into the matter or whether immediate action needs to be taken. Questions are included in the templates to uncover this, see also suggestions for elaboration questions below. All notifications shall be taken seriously and followed up, see procedure for handling reported cases of censurable behaviour.

Examples of questions

  • How would you characterise your job situation right now?
  • What do you need to get closer to an ideal situation?
  • What does it look like around you when you feel that your job works well for you and others?
  • How are you getting along in your work?
  • How do you think the last year has been at work?
  • How are you getting along in your division/department/section?
  • What conditions at work have a positive or negative impact on your enjoyment of your work?
  • Are your work premises suitable?
  • Are the resources/work equipment sufficient to perform your job in a sound manner?
  • Is there anything else that has not been addressed that affects your work situation and that you wish to discuss?

Elaboration questions in case of suspicion of harassment

5. Competence, professional and personal development

How does the employee function in their position today? Highlight the employee's strengths and what positive contributions the employee makes to the unit. Ask them to propose their own development needs and future plans. Provide feedback on whether needs and plans are realistic.

Examples of questions

  • What are your strongest sides?
  • What do you want to become better at?
  • Do you have qualifications/talents that you do not get to utilise in your current position?
  • What areas of your work do you want to develop? In what areas do you need greater competence?
  • What kind of skills do you need to do a better job?
  • What development measures do you want (courses etc.)?
  • In what areas do you want personal and/or professional development?
  • Does the position provide opportunities for development in the manner you desire?
  • What areas (large and small) do you have special expertise in?
  • Do your colleagues have expertise that you need to make better use of?
  • How can the exchange of competence best take place?

Additional questions for employees who have turned 60

  • What are your ambitions going forward a few years?
  • How do you view your future at the unit/faculty/UiO?

6. Plans and goals

Discuss the plans and goals you believe are important to prioritise until the next one-to-one work dialogue. The goals should be realistic and timed. They must be within the employee's area of responsibility and authority.

7. Follow-up of the one-to-one work dialogue

Make sure that there is agreement on what is to be followed up afterwards before you end the interview. What is to be done when? Who is responsible? What is a satisfactory result? Develop a follow-up and development plan that both parties sign. Both are responsible for monitoring what you have agreed to. Conduct the one-to-one work dialogue regularly. Once a year should be an objective.

    What do I do as a manager during the one-to-one work dialogue?

    • Expectations
      The employee will normally come to the interview with several expectations and needs to know what the manager expects. What conditions make it possible to live up to these expectations? The employee wants clear feedback on their own efforts. The employee wants to be fairly judged and rewarded. As a manager, you show that you take the employee and one-to-one work dialogue seriously by being well prepared and have set aside plenty of time.
    • How should managers act during the interview 
      • An introduction with informal chatting can help get the interview off to a good start. A general piece of advice in relation to the conduction of the interview is to take a listening and questioning attitude towards the employee. Encourage the employee to talk about their experience of the organisation and their own work situation.
      • The one-to-one work dialogue should not be a staging ground for all negative matters. Corrections or feedback on undesirable conduct and the like should be given when it happens in order for them to be effective, while an accumulation of criticism does not create a good climate for the growth and development the interview depends on.
      • However, it is not uncommon for the employee to make critical comments, either against you or against other circumstances in the organisation. Meet any criticism with humility. Be prepared to take criticism that comes across the table in the course of the interview. Do not take a defensive position and do not be argumentative. Instead, set your eyes on the future. Get the necessary views on the table by focusing on expectations and the future rather than discussing the past.
    • How to provide feedback 
      • Whether you give criticism or praise, it should be illustrated with clear and specific examples. Present the matter through facts if you need to address something problematic about the employee's behaviour. Avoid giving your subjective assessment of the employee's behaviour. Instead, focus on how you want the future to look. The one-to-one work dialogue is not the right arena for discussing issues of a serious nature.
      • Be clear in your feedback if the employee makes any requests or demands you know are not possible to carry out. Unspecific formulations, such as that you will "look" at it, can create false hopes and disappointment at a later date.
      • Do not push for consensus if you and the employee disagree. Instead, clarify each other's views and establish that you have different views on the matter.
      • The goals and measures you arrive at for the next interview must be realistic. Likewise, the resources needed to reach the goals must be available.
      • Before the interview ends, make sure that the employee does not have unaddressed issues. Feel free to ask the employee how they experienced the interview.

    What do I do as a manager after the one-to-one work dialogue?

    • If the one-to-one work dialogue is to become an effective tool for the development of employees, the agreed follow-up and development plan must be followed up. If there is nevertheless something that cannot be accomplished, you must get back to the employee to adapt the plans.
    • When the interview is over, you can summarise by asking yourself the following questions: 
      • Did the interview get off to a good start and have a good finish? Was the mood positive?
      • Who managed the interview and how was the speaking time distributed?
      • Did we follow the form or was the interview marked by spontaneity?
      • Did I actively listen?
      • Did we talk about negative matters?
      • Did we manage to finish up and come to conclusions in relation to all topics that were addressed?
      • Were expectations from both parties presented with openness?
      • Was there potential conflict, and how in that case was it handled?
      • Were agreements, plans and goals formulated in a precise enough manner?
      • Did I say what I wanted in a way that was understood?
      • Did I capture what the employee thought about the interview?

    Topics and areas that can affect the interview

    • Control range
      It is usually clear at the central level and at the faculty level who is responsible for the one-to-one work dialogue. At the departments, the variation between the departments can be wide in terms of the number of academic staff and research fellows and how the administration and technical services are organised. At a smaller department, the head of the department can conduct interviews with both academic and technical and administrative staff. This can be insurmountable and impractical at large departments. Each department must therefore find the solution that is most appropriate for their unit. The one-to-one work dialogue can be delegated and each manager must assess how to organise it. 
    • Interview about pay
      Pay is a central issue for many and the desire to discuss pay can be huge. You can discuss pay during the one-to-one work dialogue, but it is not recommended. Pay easily takes the focus away from other topics. It can be difficult to focus on goals, tasks and the working environment. It is possible to discuss pay at the end of the interview or during a separate salary assessment interview afterwards. It is important to remember that we have established systems for salary negotiations.
    • Senior interview
      When employees at UiO turn 60, they must be invited to a "senior interview". The interview is a one-to-one work dialogue with a particular focus on senior life. The purpose of the senior interview is to identify the wishes and ambitions of the senior, their future prospects and competence development needs, and create a basis for planning their further work situation. Read more about UiO's senior policy.
    • Harassment
      If an employee experiences inappropriate behaviour, an assessment must be made of the severity and whether there is a need to convene a separate meeting to delve into the matter or whether immediate action needs to be taken. Read more about harassment.
    • Agreements and laws 
      • The Basic Agreement 2006 Section 22 on competence development:
        "Individual competence development and career planning may be offered in order to ensure satisfactory and efficient performance of tasks in individual agencies. Individual employees shall be followed up by means of appraisal and development interviews."
      • Norwegian Working Environment Act, Section 4-2:
        "The individual employee has rights concerning the design of their working situation: Opportunities for professional and personal development shall be provided [...] the work shall be organised and arranged with regard for the individual employee's capacity for work, proficiency, age and other conditions."
      • Norwegian Working Environment Act, Section 4-3. (3):
        "Employees shall not be subjected to harassment or other improper conduct."
      • Norwegian Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act, Section 13. Prohibition of harassment ( (Norwegian)

    Local guidelines and routines

    MED - The Faculty of Medicine

    Are you a manager and want an overview of the competence level of the employee or the entire unit? Use the faculty's competence mapping tool (ods) (Norwegian).

    ILS - Department of Teacher Education and School Research

    One-to-one work dialogues are an important part of human resources policy work and are carried out once a year.

    • The head of the department is responsible for conducting one-to-one work dialogues with permanent academic staff. Updated hourly accounts shall be part of the basis for the one-to-one work dialogue.
    • Head of Research (acting head of department) Erik Knain has delegated responsibility for one-to-one work dialogues with postdoctoral fellows.
    • Researcher Julius Kristjan Björnsson has delegated responsibility for one-to-one work dialogues with employees at EKVA.
    • Research Education Coordinator Glenn Ole Hellekjær has delegated responsibility for one-to-one work dialogues with research fellows and employees in postdoctoral positions.
    • Office Manager Astrid Waaler Kaas has delegated responsibility for one-to-one work dialogues with administrative staff.

    IPED - Department of Education

    One-to-one work dialogues are an important part of human resources policy work and are carried out once a year.

    • The head of the department is responsible for conducting one-to-one work dialogues for permanent academic staff. Updated hourly accounts shall be part of the basis for the one-to-one work dialogue.
    • The head of research (acting head of department) has delegated responsibility for one-to-one work dialogues with research fellows and employees in postdoctoral positions.
    • The office manager has delegated responsibility for one-to-one work dialogues with administrative staff.


    Please refer to the page in Norwegian.


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    Published Dec. 29, 2009 11:57 AM - Last modified Nov. 22, 2021 10:12 AM