ali khan
Ali Khan
Published On
December 14, 2023
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One-On-One Meeting With The Manager

Your next one-on-one meeting with your manager is approaching, but you have no idea what to bring up for the session. We've all been there, so don't worry. 

Your one-on-one meeting with the manager should be something you eagerly anticipate every week! Being well-prepared for these encounters is the most certain way to guarantee that you succeed in your career. Why is that? Because your manager is the person most in charge of your career trajectory! (behind yourself, of course). This will help you boost your own and teams morale in the long run. Your on on ones should be something empowering for your team.

In this article, you will learn to be prepared for the one-on-one meeting with the manager. We’ll demonstrate how you may use one-on-one meetings to ask your manager for advice and create a healthy work environment. One-on-one meetings benefit both employees and managers. This is how, it can assist managers improve their coaching and leadership abilities.

Hopefully, this will make your next meeting more insightful and help you get a better approach with your manager. Keep in mind that a positive working connection with your manager can significantly alter how you view your job. It indicates that you are more at ease voicing problems, seeking clarification, and asking questions about your tasks and objectives. Naturally, it's your manager's job to ensure that you feel at ease voicing concerns and expressing your emotions. But by expressing interest in your manager's interests and sharing your own, you can get closer to building a terrific relationship.  Meetings with your manager are essential to ensuring your accomplishments and professional development needs are met.

Conversation Starters With The Manager

Here are 15 questions to kickstart the meeting.

1. How was your week?

- This is a friendly question that encourages active listening from both sides. It’s also a great way to understand the manager’s state of mind and to build rapport.

2. What are you excited about at work right now?

- This can help you identify the positive things happening so you can focus on that aspect moving forward.

3. What are you most concerned about at work right now?

- This can help you identify the negative things happening so you can focus on that aspect moving forward.

4. Have you ever tried [X]?

- When asking this question, be sure to focus on topics that the manager is passionate about. The conversation will be more engaging and effective when the manager feels like they’re being heard and their opinion matters to you.

5. Have you noticed anything new around the office recently?

- Ask about any changes in the office culture, interviews or events, or any new office members or policies. This is a great way to build rapport, identify common interests, and learn more about why things have changed.

6. How could I have supported you better last week?

- This is an ideal way to take responsibility and show that you’re committed to your growth and development as an employee. It also gives you a great opportunity to learn more about your manager’s expectations and priorities so that you can deliver on these in the future.  

7. How could I better support your team moving forward?

-This can help you identify ways to be a better teammate or employee for the manager and their team members, which will be incredibly useful for future meetings.

8. What do you wish I would do more of in my role?

- This can help uncover development opportunities related to your current role or any potential career progression opportunities within your company or industry.

9. What do you wish I would stop doing in my role?

- This can help uncover personal development opportunities related to your current role or personal growth opportunities in other aspects of life such as health or relationships.    

10. What do you wish I would start doing in my role?

- This can help uncover development opportunities related to your current role or any potential career progression opportunities within your company or industry.    

11. How could I improve my relationships with others in our team?

- You want to work with people who share positive relationships with one another as that can only lead to greater teamwork, stronger accountability, and better results for everyone involved. This helps identify how you could build stronger rapport with others on your team so that they feel more engaged with each other and your work together going forward.    

12. What do you think would make me a good mentor for someone else in our team?

- Regardless of whether there are development opportunities available at work for yourself, this is still a valuable question for helping you better support others around you and grow as a supportive, helpful colleague for others around you rather than just focusing on your own career progression all of the time (which tends to make people feel like they don’t matter).    

13. Do you have any feedback on how I could have handled [X] better last time?

- Feedback on past mistakes is one of the best ways for employees to grow professionally and reduce the likelihood of repeating those mistakes in the future (and it’s much easier if they get the feedback before it’s too late!). This also helps avoid toxic situations in the future where employees feel too ashamed to approach their managers with difficult questions or concerns (which makes it hard for anyone involved when something goes wrong in the future).    

14. Do you have any advice on how we could approach [X] more effectively next time?

- This can help provide actionable solutions moving forward when approaching a certain situation, project, activity, goal, etc., which employees can use to gain more confidence moving forward and reduce unnecessary mistakes from happening in the future (which keeps everyone honest and focused rather than finding excuses to blame someone else).  

15. Is there anything else we should talk about before our next one-on-one meeting?

- This is a good way to wrap up the meeting after discussing all of the points above so that people know what’s going on moving forward with their projects or tasks/issues or concerns so far (so there aren’t any surprises along the way).

Agenda for a one-on-one meeting with the manager

To know what you need to do in advance, create a list of talking points using a shared document or a one-on-one meeting tool like Fellow. Some apps will help you fill out the agenda and reclaim some of your days with templates and automation. Write talking points in advance rather than on the day of the meeting. Ten minutes prior to your meeting, it can be challenging to come up with meaningful talking points so you may just end up writing the same old thing. You can prepare for this meeting beforehand by writing down the things you want to discuss with your manager as they happen throughout the week or month. Determine how you want to be perceived at work beyond your meeting agenda.

Make a template and keep it on hand for your future one-on-one meetings. Consider dividing the topics you want to discuss in the meeting. That way you know which ones are more important to discuss first. Typical sections of a template include "priorities," "learnings," and "things I would like help with." Having sections also helps the flow of the meeting so you don’t get too stuck in one area and lose track of your list. Having an agenda template will help you prepare in a more accurate way.

A collaborative approach is preferred by some managers, while others prefer their direct reports to set the agenda. Describe the agenda at the beginning of the conversation, but be open to changes. You can also encourage direct reports to share problems they don't know how to resolve by getting personal. One-on-one meetings and engaging direct reports are topics covered in many articles that guide managers.

Don't forget to keep notes of the meeting's action ideas and key takeaways. Since the primary objective of one-on-one with your manager sessions is to develop strong connections and trust you don’t want to just forget everything 5 minutes later. Some specific topics might not require action items. However, if your meeting does produce action items, be sure to record them and follow through with them. Your next one-on-one meetings might be off to a terrific start if you review your action items from the prior meeting and you’ve completed them all successfully. If your are a leader reading this, keep in mind that when employees are empowered to set the meeting agenda, they may come up with new ideas or opportunities for innovation. If your direct report is strong, you can falsely think that the meetings aren't necessary. Keep in mind that meetings are always a must.

One-on-one meeting with the manager, plan template

Sometimes you might find yourself at the sea when it comes to planning a one-on-one meetings template with the manager. Here you will find some of the key ideas for a better template for your next one-on-one meetings with your manager. We have divided them into four key subjects. 

  1. Updates, discoveries, and accomplishments from a personal check-in
  2. Cycling information and feedback in the manager's section
  3. The week's priorities
  4. Growth and career development on the job
  5. Learn their opinion on one on ones

One-on-one meeting with manager questions

Question about advancing your career and improving yourself

  1. What measures can I take right away to advance in the company's career structure?
  2. What is your personal opinion on keeping regular on on ones?
  3. How supportive is your career development?
  4. Which one of my skills would you like to see the most improvement in between now and our next meeting?
  5. What changes do you anticipate occurring in my role over the next six and a year?
  6. What possibilities exist for me in terms of mentoring?
  7. How can I strengthen my abilities? 
  8. What else might I be reading? 
  9. Where could I be enrolled in classes or get certifications?
  10. What internal and external opportunities exist for learning and career development?
  11. What are some career goals you suggest we should focus on?
  12. Is there anything I can do to accelerate my career development?
  13. What can I learn that will enable me to perform my work more effectively?

Priorities, productivity, and strategy-related questions

  1. What can I do to support the team's performance improvement?
  2. Who on the team requires assistance? 
  3. How can I help them more effectively?
  4. How well is our group doing in terms of our objectives?
  5. What position are you considering filling next on our team?
  6. How can we make our team work better together?
  7. What do you think I should be concentrating on more?
  8. What would you like me to own up to more?
  9. How important is work-life balance to you?

Questions regarding feedback and communication

  1. What aspect of my work do you find confusing?
  2. Is the caliber of my work above or below average?
  3. What do you think about including anonymous feedback? 
  4. How can I better approach the team?
  5. Can we include feedback Fridays? 
  6. What steps do you think we can take to improve team communication?
  7. How would you feel about having a weekly roundtable discussion?
  8. How will we evaluate the feedback from the team? 
  9. What are the top areas to focus on for career growth discussions?
  10. Do you give constructive feedback?
  11. Do you encourage a growth mindset?

One-on-one meeting with the manager for the first time

It's crucial to keep in mind that this is your time with your manager if you are the direct report and are entering one-on-one meetings. Tell them that you're both equally in charge of adding issues to the agenda and showing up prepared to talk about them.

It's a fantastic first-time approach to hold one another responsible for taking ownership of the meeting to include a meeting description, whether it's in your calendar invite or shared agenda. Remember to include the meeting's goal in your description as well.

Effective one-on-one meetings offer the chance to give you the feedback you need as a newbie. You will get the chance to learn his/her way of coaching. 

Relationship building is another important factor when meeting your manager for the first time. Keep in mind that there are no second first impressions. 

They also give you and your manager a chance to meet and discuss your working connection and take a break from the monotony of daily tasks. When putting this in place will reduce employee turnover, disengaged and discouraged employees and many other factors that negatively impact the workplace. Those with a growth mindset may have questions about developing new skills or taking the next step in their career.

How to manage the situation when the manager refuses the one-on-one meetings? 

When a manager or team member says they don't see the value of an effective one-on-one meeting, it's a virtual certainty they spend most of the meeting talking about projects and status updates. That's a huge waste. For your manager, it can be so tempting: they finally have a chance in an otherwise hectic week to talk to you about your concerns and plans.

Remain optimistic and positive about that, find another time when you see it fit to request a meeting. Every team member has the right to request that kind of meeting at a time when both parties see fit. Until that happens it is helpful for managers and direct reports to take notes during meetings to keep track of what has been discussed. Prior to, during, and after the meeting, set a collaborative goal so you're both on the same page. Adding additional context to topics discussed for a future review is helpful.

However, bi-weekly meetings are also an option. Once you've agreed on a cadence, schedule your one-on-ones. Recurring meetings should be added to your calendar. In this way, managers demonstrate their commitment in a subtle but clear manner. This indicates a dedication to continuously making time for the individual. Things happen, and plans shift. Instead of canceling or attempting to cover off in Slack, try your hardest to reschedule.

Problem-solving technique involves being open to both positive and negative feedback. It's not easy to be the recipient of bad feedback. Good managers will do everything they can to provide constructive criticism in real time and in private. If you receive constructive criticism, make the most of it. It may be difficult to take in at the time, but be respectful and professional most be importantly reasonable.

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More Articles From Ali Khan

Ali is a co-founder of Wrenly known for his innovative thinking and exceptional drive to create value for every Wrenly customer. His dedication, mentorship, and leadership skills have not only shaped various careers but have also made him an invaluable asset to the Wrenly team.

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