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Leadership development

22 Thought Provoking Questions to Ask in Your One-to-Ones

February 19, 2020
If you only do one thing in 2020: Ask better questions to improve your one-to-ones!
The easiest way to derive more value from meetings is by asking better questions. In the words of W. Edwards Deming, “if you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.

In part, that’s because we aren’t very good at identifying the gaps in our knowledge. In other words, you don’t know what you don’t know and asking good questions can shed some light on the areas where we are most ignorant.

What’s more, asking your colleagues better questions in team meetings and one-to-ones, provides an opportunity to get to know each other better and trust each other more, which has a knock-on effect on employee engagement and improvements in performance.

Getting there requires taking small interpersonal risks repeatedly over time, which can feel strange if you’ve been colleagues for a while and have old habits.

Here is a list of great questions to sprinkle into your one-to-ones and team meetings in order to create conversations where team members can voice their opinions judgment-free!

22 thought-provoking questions to ask in your next 1:1 meeting

To create trust

1. Are you happy working here?

2. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?

3. What does an ideal, productive work day look like to you?

4. Who is doing really well in the company? Who do you admire?

5. What is most important to you in your career?

To identify risks and opportunities

1. What’s the biggest opportunity that we’re missing out on?

2. What are we not doing that we should be doing?

3. What would the rest of our team like us to discuss today?

4. What are we avoiding talking about

5. Who is the best person that you could speak to in order to have a broader perspective of X?

To share feedback

1. If we could improve in any way, how would we do it?

2. What’s not fun about working here?

3. If you were me, what changes would you make?

4. Where do you think I should be focusing more of my attention?

For reflection

1. How did you feel and behave?

2. Which other factors influenced the situation?

3. What did you learn from this?

4. How could you approach this situation differently next time?

One to one meetings with CoachBot

To wrap up

1. What’s the question that neither of us has dared to ask?

2. What would have made this conversation even more helpful?

3. What has changed for you as a result of this conversation

4. Can you set the agenda for next one-to-one?

Use CoachBot to set agendas with these suggested questions and templates for every type of meeting. Get in touch to learn more.

Get the timing right

Those who are more introverted and organised may be able to give better ideas if they prepare ahead, so if you’d like to exchange thoughts on a specific subject, let them know beforehand. Similarly, some colleagues might not engage fully in the one-to-one if it’s scheduled during a very busy or stressful time.

Remember awkward is okay

Building trust can feel a little awkward at first. Let that awkwardness run its course rather than avoiding it.

“You should have enough awkward in you to use up a chunk of each meeting. This is what solves problems that otherwise go unsolved. It breaks the cycle of repeated issues or an impasse. It lets you be you and let down your guard. It builds trust and relationships. It creates growth for both of you.”

The Art of the Awkward 1:1

Learn more about how to have effective one to ones - read 'Best Practice for One to Ones'

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