20 Great Questions to Ask During Your 1-on-1s
1-on-1s can be fantastic tools. They are great opportunities to deliver feedback and help your colleagues improve at their jobs. Moreover, they can help you build rapport with your coworkers and increase morale in the office. They can even help you become a better manager and leader.
The benefits are clearly there. However, actually running a great 1-on-1 is easier said than done. One of the key components of these meetings is asking the right questions. Smart, thoughtful questions can elicit insightful responses and make your meeting much more productive. Poorly designed questions, however, can waste time or even give you false signals that may ultimately cause more harm than good.
Therefore, we want to use this post to share 20 great questions you can ask during your 1-on-1s. These questions are designed for managers. While you can alter these to fit your specific circumstances, these questions offer some excellent starting points.
Introductory Questions and Building Rapport
The beginning of your 1-on-1 is an important time to build rapport and trust. For some of your colleagues, 1-on-1s can be intimidating. This is especially true for new hires or your colleagues who feel like they are underperforming at work.
Empathy is the name of the game here. The first few moments of your 1-on-1 are critical to building trust and ensuring that your meeting is productive. Because of this, think about using some of the following questions to build that early trust and rapport:
- How is everything going?
- Is there anything pressing that has been occurring with your work or at the office?
- What motivates you at work every day?
- How is your work/life balance going? Is it out of alignment?
Questions on Specific Tasks or Projects
Great 1-on-1s focus on details. Even though we are all busy with our work, you need to pay close attention to your colleagues’ work and offer constructive feedback. While the conversation will depend on your specific circumstances, some helpful questions that you can ask include the following:
- What are you most proud of at work in the past several months?
- Are there any projects or tasks that you have found challenging? If so, why?
- Do you feel like project deadlines are generally reasonable or unreasonable?
- Are you getting support from your colleagues on your work?
- What have you learned from certain projects or tasks in the last few months?
Career Development Questions
Your direct reports aren’t just looking to make money. Instead, many of them are looking to take more responsibility at work. They have career dreams, so you want to go out of your way to ensure that they are on track to achieve those dreams. Therefore, think about asking questions related to your direct report’s career development. Those questions include the following:
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
- Are there certain skills that you’ve been meaning to learn at our company? If so, what are they?
- What are the roadblocks that can prevent you from achieving your goals?
- Who can you meet that can help you get closer to your goals?
- Do you feel confident that your career is on track?
Questions About Your Relationship
The manager-employee relationship is critical for achieving your personal and organizational goals. A 1-on-1 is as much as improving your direct report's performance as improving your performance as a manager. Therefore, think about asking these questions:
- How can I do a better job as your boss?
- Do you feel like we have any communication issues? If so, how can we improve them?
- Would you like to receive public or private recognition?
- How would you like me to improve as a leader or coach?
- When are you free for our next 1-on-1?
Getting the Most From Your 1-on-1
1-on-1s are valuable for a reason. They let you and a colleague spend valuable time speaking about strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement.
But instead of scheduling a 1-on-1 and asking off-the-cuff questions, we recommend that you be strategic with your questioning. Consider borrowing these questions and incorporating them in your 1-on-1s. While some of the best questions are follow-up questions, the questions above can be a great way to get the conversation started.
Need help managing and tracking 1-on-1s at your company? Check out the newest addition to the Roots platform, the 1-on-1s ⚡ by Roots plugin!