100+ Great 1 on 1 Questions to Guide Your Next Meetings
Regular one-on-one meetings are an effective way to improve the employee experience in your organization.
But how can you turn your 1:1s into more than status update meetings?
How can you engage your people in full-hearted conversations that address their concerns and gives them direction to grow in their role?
Your 1on1 questions will set the agenda of the meeting and ensure something valuable comes out of it.
They'll create the foundation through which empathetic manager-employee relationships will develop.
Learn how to ask the right 1on1 questions and create a safe space where your people can open up about their challenges, goals, and career dreams.
💬 What to discuss in your one-on-one meetings?
Life in general
A personal check-in is an excellent way to start a one-on-one meeting. Showing an interest in the employee that goes beyond work builds a positive work culture.
Knowing the state of their personal life can also create a valuable context for their current job performance.
Discuss the employee's personal and professional growth. Provide constructive feedback. And identify opportunities for growth and areas the employee can improve their skill set.
It builds the employee's strengths, increases morale and motivation, and gives them personal and professional satisfaction.
Make the employee open up about what makes them happy, what excites and frustrates them, and how they prefer to work.
With this intel, you can proactively create a work environment that keeps them productive.
You can also use 1on1 questions to pulse-check their current motivation levels. And take action to make improvements.
Work and productivity
Ask questions about the issues hindering the employee's productivity and guide them to develop solutions.
Discuss how you can improve processes to boost productivity and quality of work. Enquire about the information and resources they need to perform optimally.
Checking in on employees' wellness and acting on the issues they face fosters a healthier and happier workplace.
It improves employee satisfaction and productivity.
Scatter wellness-focused questions in all your 1:1 conversations.
For example, ask about their work-life balance, mental and physical well-being, and weaknesses in the work environment.
The workplace will always have roadblocks, conflicts, and other challenges. As a result, employees need a safe space to express their concerns and seek guidance.
Ask questions that walk them through these issues and brainstorm solutions.
👋 5 Questions to ask employees in your first one-on-one meeting
- Do you enjoy one-on-one conversations?
- What do you expect to get out of these meetings?
- How often do you think these conversations should take place?
- Is there anything missing on the agenda that you'd like us to address during our 1:1s?
- What steps can we take to make 1:1s a better experience for you?
❓ 90+ Questions you should ask in your one-on-one meetings
🧊 One-on-one questions to break the ice
- What hobbies do you indulge in during the weekends?
- What's the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
- Would you rather go to the beach or on a road trip?
- Do you listen to music when working? If yes, which genre?
- How did you spend your first paycheck?
🎯 One on one questions to address employee job alignment
- Do you understand what we expect of you? In your opinion, are those expectations realistic?
- Are you clear on how your current role fits into the bigger picture?
- What has been your contribution to your team's objectives?
- What are you least clear about regarding the company's strategies and objectives?
- Do you have any questions regarding the recent X change in the company?
👂 1on1 questions to check in on the employee's personal life
- What three words would describe your most common emotional state in the workplace?
- How are your energy levels after a day at work?
- Are you facing any distractions from work?
- Would you describe your sleeping pattern as healthy?
- What change in the workplace would positively influence your personal life?
🚧 Questions to address challenges or roadblocks
- What should we start or stop doing to help you progress in your goals?
- Do you have enough resources to complete your daily tasks?
- Where do you keep getting stuck?
- Who or what is hindering your work in any way?
- Are there matters unrelated to the company hindering your productivity at work?
🧭 1on1 career check in questions (focus: career aspirations and goals)
- How have you been feeling about your progress toward your career goals?
- Have there been any changes to your job responsibilities or performance expectations that you would like to address?
- Are there areas in your career and role you want to develop further?
- What milestones should I hold you accountable for in our next meeting?
- Are you receiving the support and feedback from your colleagues and supervisors that you need to be successful in your role?
- Based on your latest feedback, what steps are you taking to progress toward your professional goals?
- What goals do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months of your career?
- As things stand, can you meet your objectives? If not, why?
- Has anything hindered or helped your growth at work recently?
- What aspects of your job have you found most rewarding lately?
- What aspects of your job have you found most challenging lately?
- What skills or knowledge do you feel you need to develop to succeed in your role?
- Have you considered any career advancement opportunities within our organization?
- Are there any specific projects or tasks you have recently been proud of completing?
- What has been the biggest lesson you've learned in your career this year?
- How do you see your role within the company evolving in the upcoming months or years?
- Are there any mentorship or learning opportunities that would help you progress in your career?
- What motivates you to do your job well?
- How can we continue to foster that motivation for you?
- Do you want to share any concerns, questions, or feedback about career progression?
🌱 Check out 27 additional questions for inspiring development conversations.
🤩 Questions to gauge happiness and satisfaction
- On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you working here?
- What changes would make you happier in this organization?
- Do you feel like your work is making a positive contribution to the organization?
- Are you proud of your role here?
- Do you feel connected to your peers?
- Do you feel the company values your contributions?
🧑🤝🧑 One-on-one questions about team dynamics and alignment
- Is there something we need to re-explain to the team to make it more productive?
- Are we providing enough clarity on the team's and organization's direction?
- What would you do differently if you were in charge of the team?
- What changes would have a positive impact on your team's performance?
- Where is the collaboration between teams and departments winning in the organization? Where is it failing?
🌱 Questions to discuss self-improvement
- What has the most significant challenge been lately?
- What's the most important thing you've learned this week/month?
- What other roles would you like to try? What skills would you need to perform these roles?
- Since our last meeting, what are you proud of and why?
- Who is your inspiration in this company, someone you'd like to learn from?
🙌 Ask questions about recognition preferences
- Do you prefer public or private recognition?
- When do you expect us to recognize you?
- Which kind of tangible recognition is most valuable to you?
- So far, are you satisfied with our effort to recognize you?
- How would you make hard-working employees feel appreciated if you were the manager?
🗣️ Employee feedback and communication questions
- Where is our communication failing? What changes would make it better?
- Are you happy with our current feedback mechanism?
- When is the best time to provide feedback for your work?
- Are we providing enough clarity on the company's direction?
🧘♀️ Questions to address work-life balance, wellness, and stress
- What non-work-related activities would you like to do more of this month?
- Do you experience stress and anxiety outside of work? Does your job amplify these emotions?
- Do you have hobbies and interests you feel you haven't been getting enough time for lately?
- How would you describe your current energy levels at work?
- Would you describe your lifestyle as active? Can we help you become more physically active in and outside of work?
📈 Work habits, productivity, and employee performance
- How do you handle distractions as you work? Is it a challenge?
- How often do you take breaks during work? How do you recharge?
- Do you find your work environment productive? What's preventing you from being productive?
- Given a chance, which parts of your job would you stop doing?
- Are there individual, team, or company goals that you feel are unattainable?
💻 One on one questions for remote employees
- What has been the most challenging part of working remotely?
- What steps are you taking to feel connected to your colleagues? How can we step in?
- How's the set-up of your work-from-home office? What's lacking?
- In your opinion, is the organization providing enough support to remote employees? How can we improve?
- Which communication and collaboration tools and processes do not work for you?
- Would you recommend changes to our processes and tools to enable better remote working?
💡 1on1 questions to guide employees into developing new ideas
- What are three things we should do that we are not doing?
- If you could fix one thing in the company, what would that be? How would you do it?
- What's the best solution for problem X? What would be your first step?
- In your opinion, what's the root of problem X?
- How can I help you develop idea X further to make it ready for discussion with the rest of the team?
👥 Questions about culture
- How would you describe our culture?
- What do you feel about our company's culture?
- What changes would you make to improve the company's culture if you were in charge?
- How is your relationship with your colleagues and supervisors?
- Would you recommend your friends to seek employment here? Why or why not?
📅 Questions to close your one-on-one
- What action items should I hold you accountable for in the next one-on-one meeting?
- How can I help you achieve our milestones between now and the next meeting?
- Is there something specific you would like us to give priority in our next meeting?
- What was the most valuable part of our meeting today?
- Are you happy with our 1:1 meetings?
- Where would you like us to improve our 1on1 check-ins?
🏢 10 One-on-one questions to ask employees: Examples from 2 companies
The questions you ask your employees will depend on your company's objectives.
So, first, ask yourself, what are our priorities?
Fostering employee growth?
Building better relationships between managers and direct reports?
Use these as inspiration for your 1on1 meeting questions.
According to Maria Harutyunyan, co-founder at Loopex Digital, their 1on1 questions focus on "boosting employee engagement, propelling progress, and strengthening connections."
These are the top 5 questions they ask employees:
"1. How are you doing? Simple, right? But it shows that we care about them as a person, and that's the foundation of any successful relationship. It creates a space for the employee to share any concerns or challenges they may be facing, whether related to work or personal life.
2. What projects are you currently working on? We also like to touch base on current projects they're working on to make sure they're on the right track and give guidance where needed.
3. How has work been going since our last meeting? We ask this question to check in on progress made since the last conversation and discuss any areas of improvement or concern.
4. Have you faced any challenges lately? By asking this question, we encourage employees to proactively look at potential solutions themselves rather than relying on someone else to solve those challenges for them - boosting skill sets and confidence levels too!
5. What would make your job easier? Asking this question puts the responsibility back onto the employee, which makes them feel valued – especially when given suggestions based on answers provided too!"
For Matt Little, co-owner at Damien McEvoy Plumbing: "We make an effort to concentrate our 1:1s on fostering open communication, fostering relationships between supervisors and direct reports, and encouraging employee growth and development.
Our primary objective is to give employees a forum to discuss their goals, concerns, and challenges in a supportive and constructive atmosphere, although we do touch on engagement and other topics."
The most important 1on1 questions they ask employees are:
"1. What are the week's or month's top objectives for you? This makes it easier for us to match our standards with the workload of the employee and make sure they are concentrating on the most crucial tasks.
2. What difficulties are you presently experiencing? This question gives the manager a chance to offer support and advice while giving the employee a chance to address any difficulties or obstacles they may be facing.
3. How do you feel about the amount of labor and responsibilities you have? By asking this question, we can assess the employee's tasks and make sure they aren't overworked or underutilized.
4. What objectives do you want to establish for yourself in the upcoming trimester or year? This enables us to better align employee goals with organizational aims and fosters employee growth and development.
5. Have we left anything out that you'd like to talk about? The employee has the chance to bring up any subjects they might not have felt safe bringing up earlier in the meeting."
💡 Why you should prepare questions for your one-on-one meetings
Prepare your questions before the meeting and share them with the employee. It'll give them enough time to develop their answers.
Adequate preparation means you'll not get a blank stare whenever you ask a question. And this leads to better conversations.
It also gives the employee a chance to prepare the issues they'd like to address during the 1:1 meeting and give you a heads-up.
You'll both feel you got something out of the meeting by showing up prepared.
Besides, early preparation gives you time to create questions aligning with the organization's priorities.
As a result, your conversations will be in harmony with the team and organizational goals.
💡 You can share our one-on-one meeting templates with your employees to drive more productive conversations.
🙍 Who should own the 1:1 meeting agenda?
Work on getting the employee invested in the one-on-one meeting by involving them in creating the agenda.
You can take several approaches, as illustrated by these company leaders.
The employee can take ownership of the agenda
"In our 1:1 meetings, employees are always the ones who bring their priorities and concerns to the table. We value their ownership in the process – it helps us to understand their struggles better and make sure they have all the support they need to succeed." - Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People and Culture Office at Life and My Finances.
The manager and employee can co-create the agenda
"At EQMatch, we do something we call co-creation. We ask the employee to come to a meeting prepared with topics they want to discuss. Then, the manager adds any additional topics they would like to cover, such as updates on projects or feedback on performance.
Depending on priority and needs, we decide which topics to discuss. Through these strategies, we ensure that our 1:1s are flexible and adaptable." Shashank Shalabh, CEO at EQMatch.
The manager and employee can co-create the agenda (with the employee's agenda taking priority)
"We prioritize the employee's topics or concerns at the start of the meeting and then focus on manager-led agenda items such as developmental goals and progress updates. Doing so creates a collaborative environment that encourages participation from both parties, resulting in a more productive and effective meeting." David Watkins, Director of Product Management at EthOS app.
A free-form approach
"For our 1:1 meetings, we follow a relaxed and familiar agenda where the manager kickstarts the meeting with topical updates for the current week, then allows 'free' time for both the employee and their manager to discuss things less formally.
We encourage a friendly vibe to promote openness and forthcoming feelings (positive or negative) that can then be managed and developed." Wendy Makinson, HR manager at Joloda Hydraroll.
✍️ How to prepare for your 1on1 employee meetings
Create and share the agenda
A one-on-one is not a manager's meeting. So, both parties should come prepared for the discussion.
To make this possible, managers should create and share the meeting's agenda and description with the employee early enough.
Share what you expect to get out of the meeting so that you're on the same page concerning the meeting's purpose.
Get input from the employee on the agenda
Encourage and enable employees to add items to the agenda for discussion.
Make it possible for them to ask questions they may have about the expectations and objectives of the meeting.
Make notes about what you would like to communicate with the employee
You don't want to rush the meeting through a rigid agenda or turn it into a question-and-answer session.
Prepare some talking points and note them so nothing important goes unaddressed.
Noting down your talking points also keeps you focused during the meeting. You'll not deflect from the agenda or turn the discussion into a status update.
Although preparing for the meeting is essential, doing it manually is cumbersome. Use software.
Using a tool like Zavvy's one-on-one meeting software, you can create an agenda the employee can view and add to.
➡️ Zavvy enables more meaningful 1:1 conversations
You can gain a lot from running your 1:1 meetings with Zavvy.
Here's a quick summary of what you can do with the software and how it can make your meetings more productive:
- Collaborate on the meeting agenda with employees.
- Prepare better by getting answers to your 1on1 meeting questions before the actual conversation.
- Set recurring one-on-one meeting questions.
- Take private notes.
- Note any unsettled agenda that you need to address in the next meeting.
- Define the action plan for more effortless follow-up.
Here's something else you'll love: Our tool keeps your notes, tasks, and 1on1 questions, past and current, in a central place for quick retrieval.
It creates consistency and order in all your meetings.
Book a demo today to get a taste of Zavvy's meeting tool.