One on Ones are the most important 30 minutes of the week per direct report. The following 5 categories structure the 47 questions you should ask in One on Ones (1-1s) that we’ve pulled from talking with thousands of managers. Before you know what questions to ask, make sure you know the perfect structure of a one on one.

5 Categories You Should Cover in Your One on Ones

1. Set The Agenda

The Weekly One on One is for the Direct Report. It is not for the manager. It is a 30 minute meeting structured around a set agenda. The best managers open the first 10 minutes to the Direct Report for whatever they would like to discuss. Remember, a weekly One on One is to build a great relationship. The better your relationship with your direct reports, the better the results. This requires amazing listening skills and immense patience. The following questions will guide you.

Good questions:
– Set the Agenda for Our One on One?
– How can I help?
– Grade the week. 

2. Reinforce Good Behavior

Weekly One on Ones should be your Direct Report’s favorite 30 minutes of the week. Highlighting good behavior is critical to making this 30 minutes postive and productive. Too many managers want to dive into what’s not working. Direct Reports can quickly lose confidence and get into a rut. Open up the communication channel to what is really going well. Let them brag about themselves. You will know what get’s them going and motivated.

Good questions:
– What went well this past week?

– What was the best meeting you had this week? Why?
– What was the best conversation you had this week? Why?

3. Address Challenges/Areas of Opportunities

Weekly One on Ones revolve around a professional relationship. It is more than just a time to shoot the breeze. Your professional relationship with your Direct Reports generates a level of expectations and commitments. Challenging the Direct Report on Areas of Opportunities is one of the most important jobs functions of a great leader. Many managers get passive and lazy when focusing on the difficult areas. Use the following questions maintain exposure on areas of improvement.

Good questions:
– What went poorly this past week?

– If you could have a conversation to do over, which one would it be? Why?
– What was the worst meeting you had this week? Why?

4. Game Plan

Your weekly One on One is the opportunity to strategize and game plan for the week ahead. This 30 minutes with you could change the outcome of the 39.5 hours (at least) they execute throughout the week. Now is the time to focus and deploy strategic initiatives to your Direct Reports.

Good questions:
– What are your priorities for the next week?

– Which 3 opportunities are closest to closing? Why those 3?
– What one skill do you want to get better at this week?

5. Relationship Building

Knowing some of the quirks and unique traits of your team members is a great strategy for building relationships. It’s the different between an entertaining and engaging conversation at lunch or a boring one. Some of the best rapport is developed by forming bonds over the most unique and random commonalities. As a manager, find them out with the help from the following questions.

Good questions:
– What would make you happiest on a work day?
– How do you celebrate your birthday?
– Where would you travel if you had one month off?

WideAngle is One on One meeting software used by companies including General Electric, IBM, AT&T, Google, and many more to make sure One on Ones happen, are productive, and documented.

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