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Questions to Ask Your Manager in One-on-One Meetings

Good one-on-one meetings with your manager are essential for performance, growth, and well-being in the workplace.

But too often, one-on-one meetings are wasted on project updates and tasks.

Three experts: Steven G. Rogelberg (Chancellor’s Professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte), Liana Kreamer (PhD student in organizational science at the University of North Carolina Charlotte) and Cydnei Meredith (incoming organizational science doctoral student at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte) recently identified 28 key questions across seven broad categories to help direct reports get the most value from their one-on-one check-ins.

“Asking the right questions to make sure those meetings give you what you need can have a huge impact on your work experience — helping you stay engaged, developing your understanding of your role and place in the organization, and improving your relationship with your manager — not to mention enhancing your well-being,” the authors say.

ASK FOR GUIDANCE

One-one-one meetings can be a great opportunity to get help from your manager on tasks or projects you’re having difficulty with. Here are a few sample questions that the authors recommend asking:

  • I am having some challenges and struggles with X. Can you help me think about how to navigate and address X successfully?
  • Could you suggest any ideas and thoughts around how I could get more support (people, time, funding) to help with Y?
  • What do you think of my idea Z? Do you have any suggestions for how to improve it? Or, might you have an alternative idea I should consider?

ASK FOR CLARIFICATION

In addition to asking for guidance, you can also utilize your one-on-one meetings to clarify priorities and expectations.

  • Given what is on my plate, what should I be prioritizing right now, and can you help me understand why?
  • As you review my workload, am I taking on the right projects and tasks?
  • Am I on track for meeting my goals and your expectations from your perspective? Is any refocusing necessary?
  • Is there any context I might be missing about the projects I am working on? For example, what is the reasoning for doing project X?

SEEK GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES

Consistently checking in on your professional short-term and long-term goals is important if you’re hoping to advance your career. One-on-one meetings are an ideal opportunity to ask your manager what steps you need to take to get to the next level.

  • I would value your counsel. What can I do to prepare myself for greater opportunities or to pursue X interest of mine?
  • As you reflect on where the organization is going, do you have any thoughts on how I should improve and develop to best align?
  • What strengths do you think I have and how might they be helpful in the future?
  • From your perspective, what should I be targeting as my next career move and why do you recommend that position?
  • How can we make sure that my skillset is put to the best use to support the team and the organization?
  • How can we make sure that my full potential is achieved?

Sources: Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Review

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