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The Ultimate Guide For One-on-One Meetings: How to Ask The Right Questions

Building great employee relationships is the secret to running a successful business because your people are the foundation of your enterprise. And scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with each employee is the greatest approach to establishing those relationships. 

Surveys have shown that 48 percent of managers consistently hold weekly one-on-one sessions. These gatherings are designed to establish rapport with staff members and offer them practical assistance.

Even if it may be challenging to begin, there is a way to organize successful one-on-one sessions. By preparing to ask the right 1 on 1 meeting questions and creating an effective template, you’ll be able to make your meetings easier and ensure that your employees leave them feeling motivated and prepared to perform their duties successfully.

In this post, we’re talking about the importance of 1-on-1 meetings and sharing different types of questions you can ask in your next session.

Why You Need To Have One-on-One Meetings

There are a lot of reasons why you should have regular one-on-one meetings. First and foremost, these meetings create clear and effective communication between employees and managers. In regular meetings, you can get real-time status updates on key projects, provide and receive constructive feedback, talk about career growth, conduct performance reviews, gauge employee satisfaction, use coaching to improve employee performance and career development, motivate employees, etc. 

Both managers and employees benefit from one on one meetings. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • It contributes to the development of manager-employee trust. Managers are able to create strong working relationships with employees by having regular talks. Teams are stronger and people feel safer when there is mutual trust amongst coworkers. Over time, you can discover that your connection grows more open and trustworthy.
  • It can raise your staff’s productivity and effectiveness. Research by Gallup has shown that regular team meetings increase employee engagement by three times, and increased employee engagement levels lead to better performance and increased productivity.
  • It can assist managers in enhancing their coaching and leadership abilities. Coaching and mentoring abilities are increasing in demand. Managers should have the skill of actively listening to their team members while also offering direction and feedback. Managers can better assist employee performance by becoming better coaches.

Questions You Should Ask in Every One-on-One Meeting

While having one-on-one meetings with your staff has numerous advantages, if you don’t prepare well for the encounter, it could have the opposite effect. A meeting that is disorganized and has awkward pauses will only make your employee uneasy and lead to more serious consequences down the line.

Every manager should come into meetings with employees prepared with an actual action plan, whether this means using specific questions in a one on one meeting template or simply outlining the main points to cover. Below are 32 questions any manager can use to improve one on one meetings, which we have divided into four different categories.

1 on 1 Meeting Questions to Help Break the Ice

Starting off on the right foot is crucial to having an effective meeting. Here are some conversation starters that will help you establish rapport, put your staff at ease, and foster an environment for open dialogue: 

  • How’s your family doing?
  • How are you feeling these days?
  • What do you like doing outside of work?
  • How was your weekend/holiday?

1 on 1 Meeting Questions About Employees’ Needs

Creating a sense of value for each employee in a one on one meeting should be one of your main objectives. The following questions can assist in ensuring that you are meeting your employees’ needs as they work to meet those of the business and helping them fulfill their career aspirations:

  • What is on your mind this week?
  • How’s everything going today?
  • How are you finding your current task/assignment?
  • Are you happy with your current role?
  • What are your priorities and plans this week?
  • How can I support you this week?
  • Is there anything at work impacting your happiness or well-being?
  • Are you satisfied with your work-life balance?
  • Is there any additional training you would like to pursue?
  • Where do you see yourself with the organization in three years?

1 on 1 Meeting Questions About Work

Your meeting’s main focus should be a discussion of the work and employees’ current projects. Of course, the particulars of your one-on-one sessions will be determined by the employee’s job position and present tasks, but the following questions are great options to take into consideration:

  • Do you feel you are getting enough clear directions?
  • How can I make your job easier?
  • What is your biggest challenge related to the current project/your job position?
  • On a scale of one to ten, how happy are you with your current position and duties?
  • Are there any daily tasks that you feel are no longer necessary?
  • What’s your biggest frustration with your job?
  • What is your main cause for concern around the office?
  • Do you get along well with the rest of the team?
  • Who do you enjoy collaborating with most?
  • How can the morale around the office be improved?
  • How is your career progressing towards meeting your professional goals?
  • What do you feel is holding you back from achieving your career goals?
  • Do you feel like you are making a positive contribution to the company with your work?
  • Have you considered another job opportunity recently?
  • Would you be interested in working remotely part-time?
  • What part of the organization would you be interested to learn more about?

Questions to Conclude Your One-on-One Meeting

By concluding your one-on-one session with an actionable question, the feedback loop is kept open. Here are a few examples:

  • Is there anything we did not cover in this meeting that you would like to discuss next time?
  • Is there anything I can help you with between this and the next meeting?
  • What are you committing to between this and the next meeting?
The Ultimate Guide On How To Ask The Right 1 On 1 Meeting Questions
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How to Prepare for Your One-on-One Meetings 

Think about these one-on-one meeting tips as you get ready for your weekly meetings to make sure you and your staff are set up for success.

Establish a recurring schedule. The effectiveness of one-on-one meetings depends on their regularity. For some managers, this entails holding weekly meetings, whereas for others once a month will be enough. If something unexpected prevents you from holding the meeting, do your best to reschedule it instead of canceling. 

Try to keep things informal and relaxed. Despite the fact that planning ahead can be very helpful, try not to overthink the meeting. Your job as a manager is to support and coach while making sure that your team members are the major topic of discussion. The conversation should include subjects that are on both parties’ minds right now. To help keep things informal, you could have coffee, go on a walking meeting, or meet for lunch. 

Maintain flexibility. Every one-on-one meeting agenda should be cooperative. Employees should be encouraged to speak up about a variety of topics. Common examples include feedback, career goals, recognition, and professional aspirations, just to name a few.

Tips on How to Ask Questions During a One-on-One Meeting

Because there is a natural power imbalance, one-on-ones can be frightening for many employees. It’s crucial to keep in mind that your one-on-one conversation is not an interrogation or an interview when you ask questions. Here are some suggestions to assist you to set the tone for a laid-back environment and an opportunity to forge positive relationships.

Pay attention to your tone. Your tone and overall energy will have an influence on how people respond and what they decide to say or not to say.

Consider facial expressions and body language. You may be able to deduce how an employee feels about a certain question if they are avoiding eye contact or fidgeting with something on their desk. This also applies to you; try to maintain an open, relaxed posture.

Ask open-ended questions instead of questions with a clear correct answer or yes-or-no questions. An open-ended inquiry like, “How can I help you?” can be answered in so many various ways that it provides your employee the chance to let you know what’s important.

Don’t forget to ask about their personal life. You will be better able to support your employees if you know whether they are dealing with any personal difficulties that are affecting their careers.

Bottom Line: The Importance of Asking The Right One-on-One Meeting Questions 

The whole point of one-on-one meetings is to have open conversations and build strong employee-manager relationships. One-on-ones provide privacy and allow both the employee and the management to be more open and direct with one another in a safe environment. At the same time, they give both parties a chance to address any issues without suffering any negative consequences.

All things considered, 1-on-1 meetings will almost always result in higher levels of employee engagement, satisfaction, motivation, and retention.