14 Smart Questions to Ask Your Manager In Your First 1:1
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One-on-ones are recurring meetings between a manager and their direct report. Both employees and employers regard them as the most crucial meetings you can have. They help enhance personal development, build professional relationships, and accelerate career growth. Whether starting a new job, joining a new team, or meeting a newly assigned manager, your first one-on-one meeting is the most important.
While it may seem common practice to let your manager lead your first one-on-one meeting, this doesn’t always make for a stimulating and insightful conversation. Doing your part to ask the right questions will ensure it’s a valuable experience for everyone involved.
To help, we’re sharing 14 great questions you can ask your new manager during your first one-on-one with them to help take your meeting to the next level. Feel free to use the following questions as a starting point and adapt them as you see fit.
1. How are you doing?
The beginning of your one-on-one sets the vibe for the rest of the meeting, so your opening question must be light-hearted and friendly. It might seem basic, but asking your manager how they are or how their days going is an excellent way to get the conversation started and will help to build trust and understanding.
2. What’s your management style?
Knowing a leader’s management style can give you a clearer understanding of how they run their team on a day-to-day basis and ultimately improve your working relationship with them. For example, your manager may prefer a hands-off approach or a more collaborative and guided approach.
It’s also helpful to understand your work style for this topic so you can communicate how you fit into the team dynamic. A free personality test can provide insight into your strengths and weaknesses, organizational habits, communication styles, and information processing.
3. How do you prefer to communicate?
Good communication in the workplace ensures everyone has the information they need to perform well, builds a positive work environment, and eliminates inefficiencies.
This question focuses on practical aspects of communication, such as:
- How frequently your boss wants to check in or follow up with you
- Whether they prefer synchronous or asynchronous communication in their daily interactions
- Their typical response times and expectations
4. How do you prefer to give and receive feedback?
Knowing how your manager provides feedback will make receiving and applying constructive criticism much easier. The same goes for giving feedback to your manager. Good managers seek input and feedback from their team members. Knowing how your manager prefers to receive that information can ensure a smooth experience for all.
5. What are your personal career goals?
Knowing about your manager’s career growth plans can help you understand who they are and how your relationship with them will likely evolve. For example, suppose they plan to expand their current role. In that case, they may refocus their efforts on other business areas, giving you more autonomy and the opportunity to demonstrate leadership. On the other hand, they may want to reduce their involvement in certain areas so they have more time to focus on mentoring and team culture.
6. How can I help make your job easier?
What are the biggest challenges your manager faces in their role? What’s their least favorite part of what they do? These aren’t always easy questions to ask (or answer), but putting them forward can have significant benefits.
This process is referred to as “managing up,” wherein a direct report builds a positive relationship with their manager by helping them overcome obstacles. Team members who show initiative like this may also boost their professional growth by learning new skills and tackling new challenges.
7. What are your expectations for me?
This question ensures you and your manager on the same page. Take a moment to confirm their expectations of you as an employee to ensure you’re working towards the same achievable goals. Ask about the following topics to make sure your expectations are aligned:
- Workflows and processes
- Pace and productivity
- Ownership of work
- Platforms and software proficiency
8. How will you evaluate my performance?
This question will help you prepare for your next performance review. You and your manager may define success differently. How will common key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction or financial performance influence their evaluation? Will they look at the output of your work more than your skill development? Will there be tests involved in the assessment or peer reviews?
These are all critical questions to ask before your performance evaluation, so you have time to self-evaluate and course-correct if needed. Moreover, they can provide valuable insights for your short-term goal setting.
9. Who can I learn from?
Suppose your manager has been at your company for longer than you. In that case, they’ll likely have an extensive internal network they can tap into to help you reach your own career goals, learn new skills, or improve the ones you already have.
For example, they could connect you with a colleague from the sales department to help you better understand the sales process or with an HR team member to match you with the best training programs for your role.
Ask your manager for mentorship or coaching recommendations. They might even be interested in helping create a mentorship program at your company if it doesn’t exist.
10. What growth opportunities do you see for me?
Eventually, you’ll want to move up in the company to gain seniority, experience, and a pay increase. One part of being a manager is nurturing the career development of their direct reports. Your manager may know of career development opportunities you’re unaware of or see valuable strengths that can lead you into a role you haven’t considered.
11. What books, podcasts, or other media helped you in your career?
This question shows you’re self-driven and eager to learn, both positive traits in an employee. Learning about what inspires your manager and has influenced their career can give you insight into who they are and boost your professional development.
12. What advice do you have for me?
This is your opportunity to draw from your manager’s experience and expertise. They may give you general career guidance, industry tips, or specific advice related to your goals and role. An open-ended question like this will ensure you leave the door open to any feedback, suggestions, or advice you haven’t already elicited.
13. What goals do you have for the team in the next [month, quarter, year]?
Your manager may not share their big-picture goals with the entire team regularly. Your one-on-one is an excellent opportunity to ask them how your team, responsibilities, and workload may evolve over the next month, quarter, or year. This knowledge can help you feel more secure in your role, help you get ahead of skill gaps, or inspire you to change your career path.
14. What goals should I set for our next one-on-one meeting?
End your meeting by establishing a list of action items and goals you should achieve before your next one-on-one meeting. This step ensures you and your manager have clear expectations for the period between your meetings. At your next one-on-one, you can review your goals, your experience working toward them, and what helped you achieve them (or what blocked you from reaching them).
Supercharge the value of your one-on-one meetings with Deel
Deel offers useful tools and resources for managing global teams and boosting professional development. We have a selection of tools to help streamline one-on-one meetings, boost employee morale, strengthen relationships and improve productivity.
Read our guide to virtual meetings to gain helpful tips to improve the quality of your one-on-ones, or check out our one-on-one tool to see how we make 1-on-1 management easy, trackable, and effective for your team.