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30 Questions to Ask During Your First 1-on-1

Learn how to ask the right questions, build trust, and find motivation during your first 1:1 with a new manager.

By Kate Dagher  •   October 17, 2022  •   6 min read

Your first one-on-one (a.k.a., 1:1) meeting with a new manager is important because you want to be able to have an open, honest conversation about your career, growth, priorities, productivity, and any roadblocks that you’ve been facing. Because often new employees, including new managers, need some time to get used to their new position, it’s important that you take initiative when it comes to your first one-on-one meeting and are prepared to have conversations that will make your job more enjoyable. Good communication between you and your manager will ensure that you’re aligned with your personal and career goals, give you a safe space to ask questions or give feedback, and help you contribute to a better company culture. 

This article will cover what a 1:1 meeting is, provide you with 30 must-ask questions for your first 1:1 with your new manager, provide you with some meeting best practices, and give you access to a free meeting agenda template that you can try for yourself. 

What is a one-on-one meeting? 

In most cases, how you feel about your boss dictates how you feel about the company and your job. That’s why one of a manager’s main responsibilities is developing positive relationships with employees—their fellow teammates. An effective way of doing so is through a 1:1 meeting.

A one-on-one meeting is a dedicated time for you to connect with your manager and discuss your priorities, team issues, and potential roadblocks. Most importantly, it’s an anticipated moment where you have the opportunity to ask in-depth questions, receive coaching on your strengths and weaknesses, and give and receive feedback. These are topics you wouldn’t be able to address in a public space or at a team meeting and are better suited for a private discussion.

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30 questions for your first one-on-one with a new manager 

1Introductions 

  1.  What brought you to work for this company?
  2.  Which company did you come from? 
  3.  What kind of role were you in previously? 
  4.  What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 
  5.  What is one thing you’d like to do more of in your spare time?
  6.  What is the most attractive part of your job right now?
  7.  What would you like to know about me? 

2Onboarding 

  1. What can I do this week as I familiarize myself with the rest of the team? 
  2. Which projects would you like my support on? 
  3. Are there any projects or tasks that I should prioritize? 
  4. Who can I go to if I have any questions about xyz?  
  5. How should I tell you when I am done with the onboarding tasks?  

3Expectations 

  1. What steps can I take right now to progress my career with the company?
  2. What’s a skill you think I can learn that will help me do a better job?
  3. Where do you see my role evolving in the next 6 months and 1 year?
  4. What mentorship or training opportunities are available for me?
  5. What learning and development opportunities are there within and outside of the company for me to take advantage of?
  6. What skills and competencies do you think our team is lacking?
  7. Who in the company do you think I can learn the most from?
  8. Who inspires you? Do you have any mentors?
  9. If I could improve one skill between this meeting and our next, which skill would you choose?

4Goals and personal development

  1. How do you see my personal goals aligning with the business goals?
  2. How can I best track my progress on your goals?
  3. How often should I be checking in with you about the progress made on my goals? 
  4. In the next year I picture myself doing more X in this role. How do you think that can fit with our upcoming initiatives?
  5. What obstacles do you think I need to be aware of in accomplishing my long-term goals that I have shared with you?
  6. What kind of support do you think that you can offer to me in achieving my goals that I’ve communicated?
  7. How can you see my role evolving in the next few years? 
  8. Who inspires you? Do you have any mentors? 
  9. What kinds of changes would you like to see in the team and in the organization as a whole?

1:1 meeting best practices 

1Use a meeting management software 

Make sure that you’re using meeting management software. These are the tools used within a company’s technology stack that help departments of all sizes plan and guide their teams’ meetings to ensure they’re efficient, productive, and focused on the discussions at hand so nothing falls through the cracks. 

Typically, these tools have the features and functionality to coordinate when meetings are scheduled and integrate with outside calendar tools to ensure complete visibility and transparency. Plus, with additional features like meeting agenda creators, meeting minute recorders, and so much more, you can streamline how meetings are held while boosting efficiency. Using a tool like Fellow for running 1:1s allows you to drive engagement and productivity with features like ready-to-use templates, personal streams, and an area to request feedback.

2Use a collaborative meeting agenda

Using a collaborative meeting agenda is key to having a productive 1:1 meeting. Having a meeting agenda ensures that both parties can discuss what they feel is important and prepares the other person for the conversation ahead of time. Fellow is the meeting agenda tool that helps teams around the world collaborate on meeting agendas, record decisions, and foster a culture of accountability. It’s the top-rated meeting productivity and management tool used by thousands of companies such as Shopify, Warby Parker, and Lemonade to have more collaborative meetings. With Fellow, your team can have one source of truth for every meeting, boost transparency and accountability, and never forget what was discussed. 

3Use a meeting agenda template

A meeting agenda template will make it easier and quicker to create a final 1:1 meeting agenda. Think of this template as a skeleton for your meeting and something that you can customize for every one-on-one without starting from scratch each time. Fellow offers you hundreds of existing meeting agenda templates—including 1:1 meeting templates—that you can choose from. With Fellow, you can also edit an existing template with new headers and content or you can build a new template from scratch. Using the same template for every 1:1 meeting will create consistency and structure so both parties know what to expect in each meeting. 

4Set clear meeting expectations

It’s important for managers to set clear meeting expectations for 1:1s. And to set expectations for an employee, a manager needs to ensure these expectations are clear to them first. For managers, understanding the “why” behind the expectations being set is essential as this knowledge allows them to subsequently decide where the expectations need to be set and where gaps may exist in the current workflow. A great way of setting clear meeting expectations is through the meeting agenda, in which anyone can attach notes that concern the expectations or even meeting etiquette. 

5Take meeting minutes

Lastly, be sure to take meeting notes for a successful 1:1. Meeting minutes are the official record of the discussions and decisions that take place during a meeting. Use Fellow to take meeting minutes collaboratively and stay organized by keeping track of all your meeting notes and decisions in one place.Taking meeting minutes ensures that you and your new manager are more organized, clear on how you came to a particular decision, and accountable for whatever has been discussed, since meeting minutes hold both parties responsible. Meeting minutes also help by keeping track of decisions and action items that can then be revisited in the future. 

Free meeting agenda template for your first 1:1 with a new manager 

Parting advice 

It can be challenging to think about questions to ask during your first 1:1 with a new manager. New managers will be pleasantly surprised (and likely impressed) if their direct reports are coming to them prepared with valuable questions to ask during their first meeting. Ultimately, these one-on-one meetings help to build trust, give and receive useful feedback, improve communication, foster motivation, and contribute to your growth. Over time, these conversations will prove to be essential in achieving your personal and career goals. Central to effective 1:1s are good, thought-provoking questions. Be sure to refer back to this guide before your first 1:1 with a new manager and try out the meeting agenda template provided for you here. As always, be sure to share this article with a friend or a colleague if you found it to be helpful!

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