A repository of topics to help you drive 1:1 meeting with your manager
1:1 meetings (aka one-on-one or 1-1) are dedicated recurring time blocks on yours and your manager’s calendar for private, open-ended conversations. These meetings are a great a mechanism to accelerate your professional development and stay aligned with your manager. Our guide gives a detailed overview of the importance of these meetings and provides eight quick tips to make the most out of them.
In this post, we share themes that you can use to structure your 1:1 meetings and have curated a repository of questions to help you get started.
So, let’s jump right to it!
Working backwards from the value that is derived out of these one-on-one meetings, the various topics of discussion can be grouped into four themes –
1. Interpersonal relationship
2. Informal feedback
3. Guidance on day-to-day tasks
4. Professional development
Let’s go over each of these themes in more detail.
Most of us spend a good chunk of our day at work interacting with our colleagues, peers, and manager. Hence, having a good rapport with the people we work impacts our happiness, job satisfaction and our overall well-being. One-on-ones with your manager are a good forum to build a trusting relationship and genuine, human connection with them. This reduces the scope of miscommunication and ambiguity since both you and your manager better understand each other’s thought process. Goes without saying, talking about things other than work reduces work-related stress and makes you seem more approachable.
Below are some questions that you can leverage to kick-start the conversation:
Every organization has an official periodic feedback cycle that is used to determine promotions, increments, bonus etc. At times, these feedback meetings can be stressful specially when there is misalignment between the manager and the employee. Hence, it is a good idea to collect informal feedback from your manager throughout the year. This ensures that you catch the issue early on and engage in a constructive discussion with your manager before it comes up in the year-end review. Through this, you build yourself a continuous cycle of improvement and ensure that you are learning throughout the year. This will also minimize any surprises during your formal reviews.
Bonus: Asking for feedback highlights your ownership skills and growth mindset which are always a plus.
A few prompts to help you gather feedback effectively:
Use the time during one-on-ones to give your manager an overview of your top priorities for the week and or until your next 1:1 and highlight any areas of help needed. While you and your manager might be aligned on long-term goals, giving them a sneak peek in your schedule will help them and you in many ways –
You can start this discussion through the following questions:
Your career development should be combined effort of you and your manager. Your manager should be your ally and should present you with opportunities to help you advance your career. However, that can only be achieved through an open discussion about your career goals and them knowing your interests and ambitions. Although it might be an uncomfortable conversation at first, over a period it becomes more natural and an ongoing meeting agenda topic.
Claire Lew, in her post talks about preparing for 1:1 meeting with manager and highlights the importance of talking to them about your career goals. She says:
“Your one-on-one with your manager is your chance to let her know how you’d like to be further pushed and challenged in your role (or outside your role). Take time to reflect on what you’d like to improve or work on professionally.”
Below are some questions that you can leverage to start the conversation about your career development:
Julia Evans has summarized the discussion for 1:1 meetings in a simple but powerful graphic view.