1-on-1 Meetings: 5 Questions to Spark Conversation

What is a 1-on-1 Meeting?

A 1-on-1 meeting is a meeting where you talk directly to one of your employees. These meetings are usually aimed towards getting two way feedback from team members, you can receive employee feedback about yourself as a manager, company culture, work environment and job satisfaction. And you can also give your employee feedback about their performance, professional goals and new skills they could acquire.

Remember, 1-on-1 meetings are similar to a performance review, but they are not one-sided, they should encourage employee engagement and make it a nice conversation, think of 1-on-1 meetings as a two way street, where you and your employee can have a great time sharing thoughts on how to improve.

Why are 1-on-1 Meetings important?

What's most important about feedback isn't the moment itself, but how it's provided. Many companies use "performance management" meetings once a year to judge people. These meetings are "performance based," and they create an environment where employees feel judged, not recognized. Feedback that is meaningful and contextual is more effective.

Meaningful feedback is created when a manager engages with employees at a personal level, and that employee engagement leads to meaningful conversations. But having a meaningful conversation isn't easy, especially if managers aren't used to it.

Best practices for 1-on-1 Meetings

Here are some tips for making meaningful conversations a part of your everyday work.

  • Ask for feedback. A simple, "What do you think?" or "What's going well?" can prompt meaningful conversation.
  • When giving feedback, avoid phrases like "How's it going?" or "How's work going?" These phrases don't foster employee engagement, and they don't give people a chance to share insights into what's going on.
  • Ask for different opinions: Feedback is contextual. By asking your employees for feedback, you're giving yourself the opportunity to incorporate different perspectives into your work.
  • Be specific. You can't ask your employees, "How's it going?" and then give them a one-word answer such as "great." Try, "Is there anything that could be better?"
  • Be quick to act. Make sure you act on the agreements you've reached with your team. Any feedback, no matter how great it sounds on paper, is only as good as the things you set in motion from it.
  • Make sure it's a safe space: important questions require honest feedback, and you can only achieve honest feedback if your 1-on-1 is a safe space, you need to reassure your employee that he can speak his mind freely and won't be judged by it.
  • Keep some talking points in mind, asking about the employee's personal life always makes for good questions at the start of some 1-on-1s.
  • Talk about career goals and career growth every so and then, it can be engaging and create a more personal and more comfortable feeling to talk about career development and personal development. This can also create a better manager to employee relationship.

If you're a new manager or if you're just implementing 1-on-1s don't be scared! They can be frightening at first but so is every new thing. 1-on-1s can be a great tool for team collaboration and it directly builds into better employee performance and improved team dynamics. It's by far one of the best ways to start creating a better work environment.

Get started with these 1-on-1  meeting questions

You can add some of these questions into your future meetings, or you could automate your 1-on-1 meetings using DailyBot and never miss one ever again!

  1. What is one thing I can do to make your life better at work?
  2. What activities at work give you energy these days?
  3. Would you like more or less feedback on your work? If so, what additional feedback would you like?
  4. What activities would you consider are not a good use of your time?
  5. What's the biggest challenge you've faced since our last meeting?
  6. Is there anything else you'd like to mention? If so, please write it down.

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