18 Nov 21

Questions for 1:1s

This is a collection of advice and resources I've collated over time to help me with 1:1 meetings.



  1. Never skip one-on-ones. It's the best platform for receiving and giving feedback. Most teammates value it and usually when they don't it's because they haven't seen one conducted well.

  2. Focus on creating empathy.

    • Understand how they're feeling. Project updates come later.
    • Say: "Today is for me to listen and truly understand where you’re feeling on things – that’s it. This isn’t a performance review or status report. This conversation is for me to understand what I can be doing to make this the best place you’ve ever worked.”
    • Explain why you need their input. Explain that what they say will be used to change things for the better, and that this is the most important thing you do as a manager.
    • Make it clear that you're also vulnerable, that you don't have all the answers.
  3. Questions to understand their motivators / drivers

    • When do you feel you are at your best? What conditions create it
    • Which part of your work is most energizing? Least energizing? What do you wish you could do less of? More of?
    • What area under your responsibility are you most satisfied with? Least satisfied with?
    • What would you say your biggest skill / super-strength is? What % of time do you get to use it? How can we increase it? Who on the team do you wish you could work with more? Less?
  4. Questions to develop long-term goals

    • What are your long-term goals? What skills and/or knowledge do you want to develop?
    • What is the area that, if you made an improvement, would give you the greatest return?
    • Who in the company would you be excited to shadow / learn more from?
    • What parts of the business would you like to be more involved in or learn about? What interests you about that?
    • What actions did you take so far to develop this skill?
    • What actions could you take next week to improve it? How can I help?
  5. Questions to develop strategic thinking and org awareness

    • How do you go about prioritizing your work?
    • What are the biggest time wasters / savers for you each week? What could you do now to save time later?
    • When you get stuck on something, what is your process for getting unstuck?
    • What’s a recent situation you wish you handled differently? What would you change? What can you learn from it?
    • What do you see as your top 3 priorities this quarter / sprint? The team’s? The org’s?
    • What is one thing the company can do to better compete? If you were CEO, what would you do differently?
    • What is one thing we’d be silly not to do to improve our product / services?
    • Are there any meetings or discussions you feel you should be a part of that you’re not? Are you included in any you don’t want to be a part of?
  6. Questions about manager’s role

    • What could I do, as your manager, to make your work easier or support you better?
    • How do you feel about the amount of feedback you are getting?
    • What are two things that I can do differently or improve? What could I start doing? Stop doing? What was one thing that your last manager did that you like that I don’t do?
    • What’s one thing we, as a team, could do to improve our meetings / ways of collaborating? What’s an inexpensive thing we could do to improve our work environment?
    • How useful was this 1-1, on a scale from 1-10?
    • What question do you wish I would ask? What question are you hoping I don’t ask?
    • What can I do to make this the best place in the world to work?
  7. CAMPS questions. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate:

    • Certainty: How clear you feel about what’s expected of you, your tasks, and your role?
    • Autonomy: Your satisfaction with decision power and/or amount of direction you get?
    • Meaning: How much your work makes a difference for the team / company / world?
    • Progress: The feeling that you are making a small step forward each week?
    • Social Inclusion / Belonging: Your connection to the team and inclusion in things you want to be included in?
  8. Don't get defensive. If you hear something unexpected, ask follow up questions instead of defending yourself or the company. Take notes and bring answers to the next meeting.

  9. Talk less. Create space for the other person to speak.


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