How to scale company culture for distributed teams
Over the past year, Officevibe has been partnering with Oyster HR to bring insightful content to…
When it comes to touching base with employees, keeping track of their workload and deliverables, and just checking in on a personal level, one-on-one meeting questions are the way to go. While one-on-one meetings are a great time to ask your direct reports any important questions you have for them, they also serve as a great time to address any questions your direct reports might have for you.
As a manager, you have a long to-do list and many moving parts to keep track of. As a result, you might not always have the time to craft the perfect questions for your one-on-one meetings. Sometimes, it can be challenging to know what one-on-one meeting questions to ask managers and employees or what you should be discussing with your team members.
We get it. So to help you get enough feedback (and valuable insights!) we’ve put together a handy list to keep you on track, dividing them by subject. Because, after all, if you’re not asking the right questions, you might not be reaping all the benefits of one-on-ones.
Use the following questions to efficiently set discussion points in your next one-on-one meeting agenda so that you can focus on your employees’ answers, and the next steps that come from these meaningful conversations.
One-on-one meeting questions about…
Before even jumping into one-on-ones, it’s important to brush up on how to structure them appropriately. While the conversations should always feel natural, preparing for them will help you feel confident in your approach and can even help improve communication and build trust over time.
Whether you want to talk about professional development opportunities, company culture, or anything in between, a one-on-one meeting template can help you get started and master your one-on-one conversation!
The great thing about a template is that it still allows you to stay true to your management style and put your personal touch on it. Managers and employees alike will benefit from proper preparation and structure.
While different types of meetings call for different structures, the goal is to cover the right talking points and follow up on action items. For example, a classic one-on-one meeting generally follows these steps:
1. Informal check-in (5 minutes)
2. Recent work recap (10 minutes)
3. Upcoming work preparation (10 minutes)
4. Wrap-up and set action items (10 minutes)
A goal-setting meeting will follow a different structure, with some preparation ahead of time:
1. Employee self-reflection (before your one-on-one meeting)
2. Setting individual employee goals (during your one-on-one meeting)
3. Establish smaller action items (wrapping up your one-on-one meeting)
Now let’s jump into the questions, shall we?
Now that we’ve explored the structure of one-on-one meetings, let’s walk through the kinds of questions you can ask in each situation. From general check-ins and career development meetings to personal or difficult conversations, we’ve got you covered.
Come prepared with appropriate questions for the meeting in order to cover everything on the agenda and maintain a great flow.
Whether it’s your first one-on-one with an employee or you’ve been having regular sessions for a long time, it’s always good to have a check-in meeting. Open up your next regular one-on-one conversation with a meeting question from the list below.
These questions will help you understand what’s on your team member’s mind, so you can direct the conversation from there during your check-in:
💡 Did you know? Open and honest communication between managers and employees can have a huge impact on employee motivation, satisfaction, and even productivity. So having one-on-ones regularly can even help with employee retention. In fact, a recent study showed that high employee engagement actually results in 18% more productivity (Gallup).
Other managers themselves are often some of the best people to ask for tips on having better one-on-one conversations.
While chatting about career goals and offering constructive criticism is an important part of one-on-ones, it’s also important to show an interest in their personal life. How employees feel in the day-to-day is often a reflection of what’s going on outside of the workplace.
Not only does tapping into this help build a better relationship, it also plays a big role in building trust. At the end of the day, we are all human. It’s important for everyone to be able to talk about the challenges they are facing, as well as the non-work highlights they would love to share.
At the same time, it’s also important to maintain the balance between being personal and remaining professional. While it’s necessary to show that you care, it’s also important to ensure and respect privacy.
To help you navigate this, here are some questions to ask when you want to check in with your employees on a personal level, without being invasive.
Pro tip: Be specific whenever you can. If they have children, ask their names and be sure to check-in and ask questions about them. If there has recently been a holiday or a life event, ask about that too.
Showing an interest, remembering little personal details, and having these relatable conversations can make a world of difference in an employee’s day.
So many factors that contribute to employee engagement and motivation, so tapping into what those are is key. After all, a successful business runs on employees who are driven and content in their role and career progression.
Sometimes the biggest challenge managers face is making sure their team stays motivated and kicking ass, so these meeting questions are designed to find out what they’re enjoying, what they’re not, and how you can address the challenges they face:
Success is a two-way street. Employees perform better when the company succeeds in listening to their needs and responding in a way that enables them to hit their goals. Performance management helps with professional growth, which in turn contributes to company success.
Here are some questions to ask to ensure you’re receiving feedback that can help boost employee performance:
Pro tip: Have performance review meetings with new hires after their first 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days to set the tone for future performance discussions.
Staying aligned takes some finessing, but finding the right balance is always possible when done right. Having your team aligned can help improve performance and increase employee satisfaction (win-win!).
Deep dive into these questions to assess what’s working, and what can be done to increase alignment:
Pro tip: Officevibe is the ultimate tool for getting everyone to focus in the same direction.
When it comes to professional development, everyone has their own career aspirations. From learning new skills to building long-term goals, growth is subjective. That’s why it’s essential to find out what matters to each employee, the direction they want to take, and the career goals they have.
HR leaders and managers alike can benefit from having these career conversations in order to help each individual grow.
Ask these professional development questions in your next one-on-one:
💡 Did you know? 1 in 3 employees say they don’t have someone at work who helps them grow and develop (Officevibe Pulse Survey data).
A workplace mentor can be a great way to help further an employee’s professional development. Get tips on how to mentor an employee.
No role comes without its share of challenges. Whether it’s learning how to manage distractions (at the office or while working remotely!), day-to-day problems with communication, or even an issue with the company culture, employees should always be encouraged to speak up.
Remedying these issues and blockers will help improve employee satisfaction and performance. Even if past managers haven’t taken the time to take employees’ grievances into consideration, you certainly can!
Here are some useful questions to ask in your future meetings (on-site and with remote teams):
💡 Did you know? Remote workers face a number of challenges that aren’t necessarily faced in the office. Since a recent study has stated that a quarter of working hours will continue to be worked remotely (BNN Bloomberg), it’s important to ensure that remote employees’ challenges will continue to be addressed.
Check out 6 proven solutions to common distributed teams challenges.
Being recognized for your work is a huge motivational force for employees. But how they receive positive feedback can differ. Checking in to ask about the method and frequency is a great way to keep employees on track with their accomplishments and recognized in the way they want.
Ask these questions when checking in during your one-on-ones:
Similarly to recognition preferences, it’s also important to ask your employees how they like to receive feedback in general. Some employees take well to receiving feedback and constructive criticism, while other employees require a different approach. Getting to know what works and what doesn’t is key.
Here are some straightforward meeting questions you can ask each individual:
Pro tip: Check out our employee feedback guide for managers and find out how to give constructive feedback that helps your team.
Setting career goals helps to keep employees on track and focused on where they want to be in both the short term and the long term. But it’s a manager’s role to help them determine what those are, and how to stay on track when trying to achieve them.
Asking the right one-on-one meeting questions is a great place to start:
Setting employee goals can be tough. In Officevibe, you can set individual goals collaboratively with employees, and connect them with your team’s collective goals. From there, you can set smaller action items at every one-on-one meeting, so your team members are set up for success to achieve.
Just like the importance of asking questions about an employee’s personal life, checking in on their work-life balance is also crucial. Now more than ever there is a focus on managing stress and taking care of mental health.
Be sure to ask the right questions to let your team know you are listening and that you support a healthy balance:
Pro tip: Checking in on your employees’ mental health can be a sensitive thing to handle, but it is a necessary one. A mental health template can be a great guide in helping you navigate through asking the right questions.
From career development to an employee’s wellbeing, every issue is worth diligently following up on. Personal productivity questions are just as important as work culture questions, so these open-ended options can cater to everything and anything that may be on an employee’s mind during your meetings.
If agreeing to the next steps is important, tracking them is even more so. Officevibe lets you assign every action item (to your team member or yourself!) at the end of each meeting. Then, it sends you an email on Mondays to remind you of your commitments.
Action items automatically carry over to your next one-on-one agenda on the platform, so you never lose track of what you both said you’d do.
Now that you’ve navigated your way through each section of questions addressing topics like career growth, growing more soft skills, challenges while working remotely, and so much more, it’s a great time to check out the ultimate one-on-one meetings guide for more ideas to get you fully prepared for your upcoming meetings.
It’s got all the best practices, top tips, and insider knowledge you need in your toolbelt as a manager.
You’re a great manager, and these questions will help you have great conversations with every direct report on your team. Whether it’s discussing goals, having a difficult conversation, getting a status update, or checking in on wellbeing, with Officevibe you’re well-equipped to cover any talking point needed.
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