Anna Shipman : JFDI

Useful questions for one-to-ones

30 March 2016

When I started line managing people at work, three years ago, I got some great advice from the excellent Andrew Seward. He structured one-to-ones around the following list of questions:

  1. How's it going? (they always say 'fine')
  2. How are you feeling about the work the team's been doing?
  3. Of that work, how are you feeling about the parts you've personally been involved with?
  4. Do you have everything you need to do your job? (important one!)
  5. Is there anything you’d like from me that would help you do your job better?
  6. How is ${new person} doing? (if they have a new team-mate)
  7. Have you had a chance to work with the others in your team? How has that gone?
  8. How have you been getting along when working with other teams within development?
  9. How about when you've had to deal with other parts of the company? How did that go?
  10. ${offer some feedback – always some positive and some negative if necessary}
  11. Is there anything else you wanted to raise?

When I started out I didn’t try and subtly steer the conversation to cover these areas, I just explained what I was doing and then went through the questions one by one. It became more natural in later one-to-ones, but even just going through the questions in a very structured way sparked discussion and brought out issues that might otherwise not have come up.

All of my reports who have since taken on line management duties have asked me to share this list, which suggests that it was a useful tool for them too. I’d be interested to hear similar questions that have worked in your one-to-ones.