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8 Great Questions For a One-on-One With a Manager

manager questions

What is one great question an employee can ask in a one-on-one meeting with a manager? 

We sought advice from CEOs and business managers for their best recommendations on what questions to ask your company’s leadership in a one-on-one meeting. From “How can I add more value to the business?” to “How can I improve my skills?,” there are several insightful questions you may ask your manager to help you become more useful to the organization you work for, and stand out during your limited time with leadership. 

Here are eight questions to ask in a one-on-one meeting with a manager:

  • How can I add more value to the business?
  • How can I improve performance daily?
  • What can I do specifically to advance to the next level?
  • What can I do to positively impact our team?
  • How’s it going?
  • How does my work align with our company’s goals?
  • What important priorities do you want me to accomplish, and when?
  • How can I improve my skills?

How can I add more value to the business?

Years ago one of my colleagues asked me this in a 1 – 1. As an entrepreneur, I was used to people asking me to do things for them: organize training, solve problems, help them advance their career etc. But I had never had anyone ask me what they could do for the business. It wasn’t completely unselfish of them. They wanted to build a case for a pay rise and promotion but the question was framed in a very constructive way. It showed a degree of maturity and understanding that I valued.

Matthew Stibbe, Articulate Marketing

How can I improve performance daily?

You should definitely take advantage of such meetings to ask all the questions you have on your mind. A good manager should be able to help you with most of your queries, worries, or obstacles. One good question to ask in a one-on-one meeting is how you could improve performance on a daily basis. You can, together, look at your quarterly goals and current progress and discuss what can be done to reach your targets, manage your work better or simply, be more effective. What’s most important though, don’t shy away from asking questions. This is your time with the manager to collect feedback and use it for your own advantage.

Ewelina Melon, Tidio

What can I do specifically to advance to the next level?

What specifically can I do to advance to the next level here? Asking this question lets employers know that you’re engaged and interested in advancing within the company. It also gives employees the insight they need to be successful.

Jae Pak, Jae Pak MD Medical

What can I do to positively impact our team?

Depending on how often you have your one-on-one meetings with the manager it pays to ask the following question ever so often. “What can I improve (or do more of) to maximally help out you and our team?” 

This is an excellent question that speaks volumes about the employee’s level of engagement, commitment, and desire to go the extra mile. Of course, this assumes the employee has all their “ducks in a row” and can indeed take on more responsibilities so make sure that is the case. Still, a question such as the above, backed by action demonstrates a lot of positive traits every manager wants to see in their employees.

Peter Bryla, ResumeLab

How’s it going?

The core purpose of one-on-ones is to improve communication between employees and managers, allowing employees to get whatever they need to succeed. While I’ve observed many workers making these meetings only about themselves, leading with asking your manager some non-intrusive personal questions can be a good relationship builder. Start by inquiring how their life is going, how their weekend went, or how they are coping with any recent changes at the company. Such open communication will allow you to discuss bigger work-related problems in the future without hesitation, instead of wondering how your manager will react. You can then move on to more career-focused discussions.

Anjela Mangrum, Mangrum Career Solutions

How does my work align with our company’s goals?

An employee can ask a good question in a one-on-one meeting with a manager: “How does my work align with our company’s goals?” It’s essential for employees to feel like what they’re doing is connected to the company’s broader goals. When employees know how their work fits in, it helps them understand how they can best contribute. As an employee, this question also opens a dialogue with your manager and keeps your impact on the company top of mind for them.

Nick Cotter, newfoundr

What important priorities do you want me to accomplish, and when?

I would ask my manager what their most important priorities are for me to accomplish and by when. If the project objective was not clear as they answer the first two questions (what and when), I would ask them to describe the objective of the project and what a successful product or outcome would look like for the manager. The interesting thing that I have found over my 30-year career is that often managers ask their employees to do things but they (the manager) don’t have a clear picture of what they are really asking for. Posing the questions above can help the manager gain clarity, too, and the employee won’t waste their time or effort trying to create a product that will not meet the manager’s objective.

Jennifer Drago, Peak to Profit, LLC

How can I improve my skills?

How can I improve my skills? Are there some classes or reading I can do? These questions allow your employer to see that you care about your work and your performance. It demonstrates that you are committed to your work and always trying to do more. A manager judges positively on a proactive attitude and the willingness to improve and learn new skills.

Chiara Sternardi, Passport-photo.online 

What to read next: Check out this post on Workforce Management.

 

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