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Ask These One-On-One Meeting Questions to Build Trust and Good Rapport With Your Team

One-on-one meeting questions are an opportunity to build trust with your team. So, how do you step back from the generic status update questions? Find out!

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One-on-one meeting questions are an opportunity to build trust with your team. So, how do you step back from the generic status update questions? Find out!


When I think about one-on-one meeting questions the conversation that comes to mind goes like this:

“Good morning sir, I'm ready for our meeting.”

“Good morning Franklin. Sure. have a seat and we’ll get right to it….um….what's the status update on….” and the rambling goes on and on.

Very routine. No bonding between the manager and the employer. Just pure clockwork questions on the matters that the employee is handling. The Hypercontext 2019 state of one-on-ones report confirmed that 54% of managers use one-on-one meeting questions to get status updates on direct reports.

What if I tell you that one-on-one meeting questions are your chance to build trust with your team? 

Both managers and employees struggle with phrasing one-on-one meeting questions, opening up the conversation, and even prompting difficult conversations. So, we will start by looking into the different methods that managers and employees can use to share ownership of the agenda in one-on-one meetings.


4 modes of sharing ownership of the one-on-one meeting agenda

The responsibility for participating in one-on-one meeting questions and contributing to the conversation should be shared equally between the manager and the employee. Sharing the responsibility will help you build trust with your team. Additionally, it creates a comfortable environment for both parties to speak openly about the direct reports handled by the employee.

There are 4 ways to go about this so that the structure of the one-on-one meeting questions and conversation is steered in a productive direction. You can try these out!


  • The hands-off model

In this model, the agenda of the meeting is decided by the team member. Therefore, the agenda depends on where the team member needs support, guidance, feedback, or what they have in mind.


  • The 10/10/10 model

The agenda takes a 10-minute formula that goes like this: 10 minutes to communicate what’s on your mind, 10 minutes for the items on the agenda, and 10 minutes to discuss the action points for the future.


  • The “if we have time for my items, we’ll discuss them” model

The employee or manager prepares a list of topics or questions to discuss, which are not part of the agenda. When the one-on-one meeting questions end and there is some spare time, the manager and the team member will discuss the items on the list. However, if there is no spare time, they will plan to follow up on the one-on-one meeting questions and topics afterwards.


  • The “set meeting guidelines and let them take over” model

A basic guideline is set for the meeting, but the team member takes over the meeting. The team member adapts the agenda based on what they need to discuss with the manager.


One-on-one meeting questions that managers can ask employees

One-on-one meetings between team members and managers need to have an angle. Before you set up a one-on-one meeting, ask yourself: What do I want to achieve through this meeting? Once you answer this question, you will be able to create one-on-one meeting questions that help you build trust with your team. The key areas that we will look into are as follows:

1. Questions for getting feedback from a direct report

Make use of this opportunity to have a candid and private conversation with your team members on any coaching area they can improve.


  • What area of your work do you want to improve?

  • How many hours of your day do you feel productive? How could we assist in boosting your productivity?

  • What do you like about my management style? What do you dislike?

  • If I could improve one skill between this meeting and the next, which would you choose?

  • How do you like receiving feedback?

  • What aspect of your job would you like more coaching or help on?


2. Questions for improving your team

The only way you can find out about how to improve your team is by asking for some insights. Prepare to be shocked at how much time, energy, and money your team will save you. Use the following questions:


  • Do you feel like you are on the same page with the team?

  • Who would you like to work more often with? And why?

  • What’s one thing we could do to improve our work environment for the team?

  • Are there any meetings or discussions you feel you should be a part of that you’re not? Are you included in any you don’t want to be a part of?

  • Do you feel overworked, or underworked, or do you handle the right workload?


3. Questions to address concerns or challenges 

Creating an open-door policy can only do so much. One-on-one meeting questions that target challenges and concerns will reveal more; use the following questions as a starting point:


  • What aspect of your job do you need help with?

  • What’s something you would like to share but is a little stressful to bring up during team meetings?

  • Do I have anything outstanding for you that I haven't done yet?

  • What are you least clear about in terms of the company goal and strategy?

  • Do you have any questions that, if answered, would help you in your day-to-day work activities?


4. Questions about work motivation

Looking into employee motivation will help you retain more employees. You will get some insight into the areas of work that can potentially reduce employee retention and productivity.


  • Are you happy in your role? What could make it better for you?

  • What are you passionate about, professionally and personally?

  • What’s one thing we could change at work that could improve your personal development and life?

  • What’s your least favourite part about your daily activities at work?

  • How are you feeling about your goals?

  • Are there any goals we have on an individual, company, or team level that you feel are unattainable? If so, why?


5. Questions to help improve communication

Boosting the engagement and communication channels of your team members will help boost productivity and build trust with your team.


  • Am I providing enough clarity in our direction as a team?

  • If you were managing the team, what would you do differently?

  • Are you content with our level of communication? Is there anything you would do to change it?

  • What can we do to improve the performance of the team?

  • What problem do we have on our team that I might not know about?


6. Questions for remote employees

Employees who work remotely face unique challenges. Unfortunately, they are not able to communicate these challenges and one-on-one meeting questions are the only way that you can get to understand these challenges.


  • What is your favourite part about working remotely?

  • Do you think the company supports remote staff effectively? And how can we improve on this?

  • Do you have opportunities for “water cooler” type of conversations with the other team members to help you brainstorm ideas?

  • When you have a creative idea, what do you do with it?

  • What helps you feel connected to others and counteract the loneliness that comes with working remotely?


7. Questions about career growth and development

If you want to learn more about the career progression of a team member, you can use these questions as a start:


  • What do you want to be doing in the next 3, 5, or 10 years?

  • Is the work you do here in line with your long-term career goals?

  • Are you learning new things at work? And do you feel challenged?

  • What additional training or education would you like?

  • What skills would you like to develop right now?



The best way to build trust with your team is to understand the needs and concerns of the team. You can’t get all this information through group team meetings, and that’s where one-on-one meeting questions come in. Let us know in the comments, which one-on-one meeting questions you have asked or been asked.

Written by

Lilian Nerima Musonge

Nerima Musonge is a Lawyer who is passionate about Content Creation and Copywriting. She is constantly trying to broaden her artistic pursuits and find out how they can integrate with the law. When she is not squinting behind a laptop, she is mothering, cracking jokes, and living her best life

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