17 Important Questions to Ask Your Manager in One-on-one Meetings
One-on-one meetings can be fantastic tools. They’re great opportunities to receive feedback and can help you build rapport with your manager to create a more comfortable work environment.
One of the critical components of these meetings is asking the right questions. Letting your manager lead your one-to-one meeting is easy as a direct report. But great one-to-ones should be conversations, not one-sided presentations. Your manager wants to gain insight from you during this time, but you should also ask questions to gain understanding from them.
So, we’re sharing 17 good questions you can ask a manager during your one-on-ones to help you get the most from the next meeting with your manager. The following questions offer some excellent starting points, though you should feel free to adapt them to your specific situation.
1. How are you doing?
The beginning of your one-on-one sets the vibe for the rest of the meeting. The first few moments of your one-on-one are critical to building trust and ensuring your meeting feels welcoming and positive for both parties. Start with something simple, like asking your manager about their day or how they’re doing.
2. For new managers: What’s your management style?
Knowing a leader’s management style can improve your working relationship with them, especially if you’re starting a new job with a new boss. There are plenty of personality tests, and quizzes managers can take to identify their management style. Some of the most common management styles are:
3. How do you prefer to communicate?
Whether a new manager is brought onto your team or you join a new team, you’ll benefit from getting to know your manager’s preferred communication style.
This question focuses on the practical aspects of communication, such as how often they want to check in with you and whether they prefer to have chats over Slack or team meetings on Zoom. You can use these recommended questions for check-in meetings to guide your next meeting.
4. How do you prefer to give and receive feedback?
Knowing how your manager provides feedback will make receiving and applying constructive criticism much easier. For example, receiving formal and direct input from a manager when you’re used to receiving informal feedback can be challenging to get used to. But if you discuss preferred styles beforehand, you can set yourself up for a more efficient feedback session.
The same goes for giving feedback to your manager. Managers should seek input and feedback from their team members. Knowing how your manager prefers to receive that information can ensure a smooth experience for all.
5. What are your personal career goals?
Asking about your manager’s career goals can tell you a lot about who they are and what they will prioritize. Suppose they’re looking to stay in their role for the foreseeable future. In that case, they may focus more on improving the team’s growth, workflow, and overall company culture. If they aim to get promoted in the next year, they’ll likely focus on hitting leadership’s goals and metrics to help them move up in the company.
6. How can I help make your job easier?
What are the biggest challenges your manager faces in their role? What’s their least favorite part of what they do? These aren’t always easy questions to ask (or answer), but putting them forward can have significant benefits.
This process is referred to as “managing up,” wherein a direct report builds a positive relationship with their manager by helping them overcome obstacles, which can increase their value as an employee.
7. What are your expectations for me as your direct report?
Are you and your manager on the same page? Take a moment to confirm their expectations for you as an employee to ensure you’re working towards the same achievable goals. Ask about the following topics to make sure your expectations are aligned:
- Workflow and process
- Pace and productivity
- Ownership of work
- Platforms and software proficiency
8. How will you evaluate my performance?
This question will help you prepare for your next performance review, as you and your manager may define success differently. How will common key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction or financial performance influence their evaluation? Will they look at the output of your work more than your internal processes? Will there be skills tests involved in the evaluations or peer reviews?
9. What have I been doing well in my current role?
Before you ask for constructive criticism, ask your manager to highlight what you’ve been doing well. Sometimes, employees can’t identify how they’ve improved and don’t know what their strengths are. Your manager will have a unique perspective (and possibly positive feedback from your peers) that can help you see how you shine in your role.
10. What skill sets can I improve?
Identifying areas of improvement before you head into your one-on-one meeting can make this discussion easier. Before your meeting, take thirty minutes to self-reflect and identify one to three skills you believe you can improve.
Then, frame the question this way: “I’d like to review a few skills I think I can improve upon. Specifically, I believe I could improve my presentation skills and client conflict resolution skills. What do you think?”
11. What roadblocks are preventing me from achieving my goals?
Some roadblocks may be evident to you as the worker. For example, you may be overwhelmed by your workload or have difficulty getting the support you need from other team members to complete a task. But your manager may see blockers you don’t—and the solutions for them.
12. Who can I learn from?
Suppose your manager has been at your company for longer than you. In that case, they’ll likely have an extensive internal network they can tap into to help you reach your career goals, learn new skills, or improve the ones you already have.
For example, they could connect you with a colleague from Sales to help you better understand the sales process, or with an HR team member to match you with the best training programs for your role. Ask them for mentorship or coaching recommendations. See if they can create a mentorship program at your company if it doesn’t exist yet.
13. What growth opportunities do you see for me?
One part of being a manager is nurturing the career development of their direct reports. Eventually, you’ll want to move up in the company to gain seniority, experience, and a pay increase. Your manager may know of career development opportunities you’re unaware of or see valuable strengths that can lead you into a role you haven’t considered.
14. What books, podcasts, or other media helped you in your career?
This question shows you’re self-driven and eager to learn, which are both positive traits in an employee. Learning about what inspires your manager and what’s influenced their career can give you insight into who they are as a person and boost your professional development.
15. What advice do you have for me?
This is your opportunity to draw from your manager’s experience and expertise. They may give you general career guidance, industry tips, or specific advice related to your goals and role.
Suppose you’re starting a new position at a new company, and your manager has been there for some time. In this case, asking, “What advice do you have for me about working at [Company]?” can help you get your footing and understand the organization on a deeper level.
16. What goals do you have for the team in the next [month, quarter, year]?
Your manager may not share their big-picture goals with the entire team regularly. Your one-on-one is an excellent opportunity to ask them how your team, goals, or tasks may evolve over the next month, quarter, or year. This knowledge can help you feel more secure in your role, help you get ahead of skill gaps, or inspire you to change your own career path.
17. What goals should I set for our next one-on-one meeting?
End your meeting by establishing a list of goals you should achieve before your next one-on-one meeting. This step ensures you and your manager have clear expectations for the period between your meetings. At your next meeting, you can review your goals, your experience working toward them, and what helped you achieve them (or what blocked you from reaching them).
Get the most from your next one-on-one meeting
One-on-one meetings are valuable for a reason. They let you and your manager—or any colleague—spend valuable time speaking about strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement.
Instead of scheduling a one-on-one and asking off-the-cuff questions, we recommend you be strategic with your questioning. While some of the best questions are follow-up questions, the questions above can be a great way to get the conversation started. If you’re looking for meeting templates for one-on-ones, use our one-to-one meeting template as inspiration.
Need help managing and tracking one-on-ones at your company? Check out the 1-on-1s ⚡ by Roots plugin!