one on one questions for managers

10 Best One-on-One Questions for Managers to Build Trust

Most failures at work (and life in general) stem from a lack of open communication. 

Want to build trust within your team? Start spending one-on-one time with them to show you value them.

However, one-on-one meetings aren’t always easy. It can be challenging to cover key issues quickly, keep the agenda on track, and effectively tackle employee challenges. 

For example, what if your employees won’t open up about their problems, or the conversation keeps veering off course? Having a plan and a list of relevant questions helps, but one-on-one meetings are about much more than that.

This blog post presents ten powerful questions and helpful tips for impactful one-on-one sessions with your team. šŸ’”

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Building Trust and Fostering Mentorship in One-on-One Meetings

Whether in-person or occurring virtually, one-on-one meetings are meant to build trust between you and your employees. 

According to PwC, 61% of employees feel that a lack of trust affects their performance at the workplace.

Building trust between your employees helps to:

  • Make them perform better at work
  • Discuss their problems openly
  • Respect the organization better
  • Improve talent retention

One-on-one meetings build trust through open conversation. However, that only works if your employees feel comfortable speaking up and the environment is supportive.

Let’s see how you can take small steps to improve your one-on-ones. šŸ‘‡

1. Create a safe space 

Create a safe space for your employees to open up freely. 

When you prioritize psychological safety, your employees will trust you and feel comfortable discussing their thoughts and concerns. 

They shouldn’t worry about losing their jobs or facing repercussions.

When you start your one-on-one, stay open-minded and keep it casual. Respect your employees’ opinions, be empathetic, and avoid judgment. Make sure the person feels heard and valued throughout the conversation.

2. Be an active listener

Remember that the meeting is more for your employees than for you. Your role is actively listening to what they say, building solid connections, and making them feel genuinely heard.

It’s a great chance to learn about your employee’s goals, career dreams, and hurdles. This helps you grasp their perspective and where they want to go.

This is also a chance for employees to ask questions they might not usually get toā€”about the organization’s plans, their performance, or even an appraisal. They could even resolve some crucial doubts.

For example, an employee might be confused about a project or task. This is a good time for them to bring up such queries.

3. Be transparent and honest

The first step towards transparency is being open to feedback. This can serve as the starting point for your meeting. 

Be honest in communicating with employees, and don’t disregard what they say. Track their progress and offer support wherever they need it. Share your weaknesses and aspirations; this might help them share theirs, too.

4. Empower and support

One of your key responsibilities is to support the growth of your employees by helping them reach their maximum potential. Employee development is a key determiner of your success as a manager.

You can support your employees by giving them constructive feedback and the resources necessary for their growth. This helps them understand where they stand and how they can improve. 

Understanding and addressing your employees’ needs is essential to help them grow in their careers. By recognizing their goals and concerns, you can tailor your approach to match their goals.

Demonstrate how to approach tasks they may find challenging. Give them practical guidance and share your expertise to help them tackle challenges and develop their skills.

5. Set clear goals and follow up regularly

What do you want to achieve at the end of the meeting? Being clear about this question will help you stay on track.

One main goal of the meeting is to get project updates and follow up on past discussions. After understanding employees’ needs, you can also set collective goals for the future.

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10 One-on-One Questions for Managers

One-on-ones provide an excellent opportunity to connect with your team, foster a culture of openness, and address personal and professional concerns.

Here are some of the best one-on-one questions for managers focusing on team dynamics and getting to know employees better. These questions are a great starting point for your one-on-one meetings. 

1. How was your last week? 

You need to break the ice with a quick question. It can be either a casual conversation starter or something that opens your employees up. 

It must give the lead to your employees, letting them talk about what they want and drive the conversation forward. 

Asking them about their past week will help them take charge and make room for the conversation to follow. They might talk about what they worked on last week. If you think there’s something significant to discuss, this is your chance to take the conversation in the right direction.

2. Are you happy/satisfied at work?

Job satisfaction makes employees stay long, work with motivation, and contribute to the organization’s growth. You will be surprised that 86% of job satisfaction is derived from a good relationship with managers. 

This is an open question where employees can discuss their problems at work. You can learn what troubles them and how happy they are with their work. Depending on the response, this question also provides a trail for follow-up questions. If your employees aren’t happy, you can understand which aspects of the work they dislike and how to improve. 

This answer also tells you what job satisfaction means for different employees. 

3. What are your priorities right now?

Another way to gain insight into your employees’ functioning is to inquire about their priorities. This will tell you how they view their work in the present and where their focus lies, providing crucial insights to manage them better.

Asking this question can also make the meeting more actionable. It is an excellent way to allow your employees to discuss their personal lives (if they’re comfortable doing so) without directly probing them.

4. Do you require help or coaching with any work area? 

Step into the shoes of a mentor and ask your employees if they need assistance with something. It can be a project-related concern or a general question addressing their goals. 

An open conversation about areas where they need help can help foster trust, an open discussion and build a healthy relationship. Remember that as a manager, your job is not solely to manage work but also to identify and address roadblocks for your employees.

Coaching is a top-tier responsibility of all managers, and this question can be the first step. It begins the collaborative journey where the employees can ask for help without hesitation.

5. Are you getting enough feedback on your work? 

To climb the ladder, your employees must see themselves learning and improving with your guidance. Ensuring your employees get enough (and the right) feedback is crucial.

Asking if they get enough feedback tells you this. 

It also helps you know whether they get the feedback at the right stage. Employees can communicate areas where they think they need more insight.

For example, your employees might feel that they don’t get feedback until the final stage of the project when it is difficult to make adjustments. This can alert you to the need for prompt feedback to facilitate better project outcomes and enhance employee performance. 

6. Where do you think you waste most of your time? 

Management needs to know which tasks your employees consider productive and which they consider time wasters. Awareness of these aspects, whether unproductive team meetings, unnecessary emails, or poor communication, is essential. 

It works both ways. 

By reducing non-productive tasks, you’ll demonstrate that you value your employees’ time and are attentive to their concerns. It will also help you get input from the employees regarding better time management and work allotment practices. You can get a sneak peek into what isn’t working best for your employees. 

7. Do you think the team is communicating effectively enough? 

This question will provide insight into the team’s performance, the relationships among colleagues, and a direct report of team spirit. Good team collaboration in the workplace is integral to meeting deadlines and promoting a good work culture.

By understanding the lines of communication between team members, you can grasp whether the internal team coordination is good. Asking this question is especially crucial when the team works in a hybrid setting and conducts hybrid team meetings. You can also compare the in-office and other remote teams’ responses.

šŸ’” Tip: Enhance team communication with communication plan templates. These templates help your team communicate better, contributing to effective work management and better productivity.

8. What would you recommend to improve our workplace culture?

Team culture plays a significant role in work-life balance and management. This question will help you understand the employees’ satisfaction with the company culture. Collect ideas from different employees to enhance the company culture and work-life balance.

Ask employees to rate the workplace culture between one and ten to monitor their satisfaction level.

Use this knowledge to bridge the gap between what the company offers and what the employees expect.

9. Do you want more or less direction from me? 

This question is a direct inquiry about whether the employees need more assistance or simply want you to let them off the hook a little. It is crucial to maintain the balance between micro-management and lack of direction.

Employees can be honest about how much they contribute to their everyday tasks and workload by posing this question. It allows the assessment of your involvement without hurting any feelings.

Introducing this question will set the right tone for your employees and yourself regarding how to direct them on upcoming tasks. 

10. Do you have any feedback for me?

To ensure the success of one-on-one meetings, your employees must also give you feedback. 

Asking this question will instill confidence by showing genuine interest in their opinion on managerial direction and team dynamics. It will also help you understand what organizational-level challenges trouble your employees.

They can tell you if you can make their workday easy. Employees will recognize your openness to constructive criticism of your work style, laying the groundwork for a successful relationship with them.

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Other Tools and Tips for Holding Effective One-on-One Meetings

While these ten questions can help strengthen relationships and foster meaningful conversations, here are some supplementary techniques and one-to-one meeting software to enrich the quality of your one-on-one meeting. 

1. Share the meeting agenda in advance 

Having an agenda is essential for all types of meetings. Set an agenda in collaboration with the employee before the meeting. This will help the employee prepare for it and address all their issues. 

Additionally, with an agenda, you can arrange a list of follow-up questions and ensure all those are answered before the meeting ends. 

2. Set meeting goals and expectations 

What are you trying to achieve? Is it personal development goals, an organizational issue, a feedback call, or something else? 

Know what you expect from the meeting and work towards it. This must be reflected in the questions you ask.

3. End on a positive note

End the conversation right. 

Whether it’s with ‘we will work on this together’ or ‘I have taken note of what you’ve said,’ it’s vital to end positively. 

The employee has just opened up to you about their work and personal life, and they need the acknowledgment that something good will come out of it.

Organize one-on-one meetings with ClickUp 

Managing so many meetings with different employees can be difficult. ClickUp Meetings helps you document your meetings, take notes, and manage them all in one place.

ClickUp has features such as checklists, recurring tasks, assigned comments, and editing that help you execute one-on-one meeting sessions smoothly. 

Use ClickUp Brain to transcribe the meeting and ClickUp Clips to record everything essential for later use. Both tools are integral to noting the meeting minutes and using them later to take action.

Get reminders and stay ahead of schedule with ClickUp RemindersĀ 
Stay on track with quick and easy ClickUp Reminders

ClickUp Reminders enables you to swiftly create reminders for upcoming meetings, ensuring you never overlook them. You can manage these reminders from your phone or computer, helping you stay ahead of your schedule.

Send reminders to others, include attachments and dates within a few clicks, and manage your meetings well. You can also snooze or reschedule these reminders or delegate them. 

With ClickUp Calendar View, you can quickly see the tasks your employees are working on and their schedule for the coming week or month at a glance. You can also filter tasks in the calendar view to see only the ones you want. Syncing your Google Calendar with ClickUp is as convenient as can be with two-way sync. 

You can also color-code tasks and prioritize them. Filters save you time by quickly reviewing what you are looking for.

ClickUp Calendar View
Visualize your work and plan project timelines through ClickUp Calendar View

Lastly, we have the ClickUp 1-on-1 Template.

This template outlines roles, expectations, and best practices for establishing and maintaining a positive working relationship between manager and employee.

This one-on-one meeting template helps build a good relationship between the manager and employees by laying out the roles, expectations, and feedback cycles. 

With this template, you can: 

  • Keep all your data, such as agenda and goals, aligned in one place for each individual separately 
  • Customize and share the one-on-one meeting details with the stakeholders 
  • Assign comments and collaborate on ideas 
  • Add charts and visuals to support the one-on-one session 
  • Create nested pages with the pre-built AI meeting tools and page templates 
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Manage One-on-One Meetings with ClickUp 

One-on-one meetings are crucial for building healthy relationships with employees and making them feel seen and heard. Spend time with the team to exchange feedback, point out growth opportunities, and contribute to their personal and professional development.

Asking the right questions and remembering these tips will help you better understand and motivate your employees.

With ClickUp, you can manage all meetings in one place, set reminders, add notes and graphs, and record and transcribe meetings. This tool covers all your one-on-one meeting needs.

Sign up for ClickUp today!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What should I ask in a one-on-one meeting with the manager?

In a one-on-one meeting with your manager, you can discuss any challenges you face, ask for feedback, discuss growth opportunities, and ask for assistance and resources to meet your overall career goals.

2. What is the best question to ask a manager?

The best question for a manager is what they expect of you as an employee. You can also simply ask for feedback on your performance so far. 

3. What is an impressive question to ask a leader?

An impressive question to ask a leader is what their management style is like and how you, as an employee, can contribute to it.

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