The One-on-One Meeting Template You Need

One-on-one meetings are the bread and butter of management. Here is how to make them useful and productive for everyone involved.

June 2, 2022
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There are 300 more icebreaker questions at the bottom of the article
How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
Show us your most-used emoji.
What was the most unique style or fashion trend you ever embraced?
What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
What is your favorite knock-knock joke?
Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

One-on-one meetings are the bread and butter of management. However, it's pretty standard for them to become an excuse to discuss deadlines and get more work done. To be the best manager you can be, you must master the art of one-on-one meetings. A one-on-one meeting with a manager is more than just a "surface-level" checkup. During the discussion, you can learn more about your direct reports, even beyond work-life.

These meetings are the most efficient method for promoting an informed and open work environment, building reputation and trust, improving communications, and creating a sense of team. While a one-on-one discussion is beneficial, quality and frequency matter a lot because unproductive one-on-one meetings are the bane of managers and leaders everywhere.

So, how do you ensure that they're effective? Templates.

One-on-one meeting templates allow team members to know the agenda of the meeting and the next steps. It gives managers a structured yet flexible outline to run with, improving productivity and efficiency.

Ready to begin? This post will explore the structure of one-on-one meeting templates you need to run your successful team meetings.

What Is A One-On-One Meeting Template?

A one-on-one meeting template is a document that allows you to track your progress on projects, set goals, and brainstorm solutions to problems. It's not just a list of topics to cover but a structure for ensuring that the most critical issues are addressed and that nothing falls through the cracks. It also keeps you better prepared to make decisions or take action afterward.

It serves as a guideline to lay out what you want to accomplish during the meeting, set the right amount of time aside for it, and give you some questions to ask to make sure you're covering all bases. It also creates an opportunity for everyone to prepare beforehand and come prepared with their thoughts and opinions. If you're part of a team that regularly holds weekly one-on-one meetings, creating a template can help keep your team focused on what really matters.

How Do You Structure A One-On-One Meeting?

We may have been on the giving or receiving end of a one-on-one discussion that was unproductive, unclear, or just plain awkward. And we definitely wished it was better.

It's essential to ensure that the employees are comfortable expressing themselves. And to do this, they need to prepare ahead of time and have talking points. These talking points are the structure - they allow the employees and managers have the time to reflect on their needs, concerns, and ideas. When you're the person holding the meeting, it's important to be thoughtful about using the structure to advance goals rather than create unnecessary barriers.

The first step in structuring a one-on-one discussion is to decide what goals you want to accomplish with the meeting. Ensure that you:

1. Decide on a goal for the meeting and make it specific

2. Choose one aspect of the goal that you want to tackle in the meeting

3. Set up the meeting time and date and ensure it fits everyone's calendar

4. Do your research ahead of time

5. Outline the agenda for the meeting

There are various ways to build an effective meeting structure. Once the outline is in place, other things can fall into place. While there are other ways to structure your one-on-one meeting template, the five key-area- approach is effective.

The 5 Key-Area Approach To Building A One-On-One Meeting Structure 
General Engagement

As a manager, it's your responsibility to ensure effective team development, and a great way to do that is by knowing the strengths and opportunities of team members. With these in mind, you can start by asking the employee what projects they're excited about and the ones they aren't looking forward to. The next question is how you can support them in turning their opportunities into strengths, giving your team members a sense of belonging and allowing them to ease up and communicate better. 

Team Dynamics

It's not enough for employees to be great additions to tasks. They need to be team players. You can ask about their relationships with teammates, suggestions to improve team performance, etc. While you're responsible for helping employees feel comfortable sharing experiences and concerns with you, you shouldn't encourage gossip and hearsay. 

Projects and priorities

One of the purposes of one-on-one meetings is to establish a healthy relationship with employees and guide them to grow. An effective way is by helping them prioritize their tasks and goals instead of asking for quick updates. Prioritizing tasks allows employees to manage their workload and demand in check, leading to more productive and more engaged employees.

Career goals and aspirations

It's essential to ensure that team members stay motivated and on track with their career goals. You can ask your direct report about their aspirations and offer guidance on how they can achieve them. The goals may be short-term, medium, or long-term goals. But, the idea is to help align their career goals with their professional development. 

Feedback, requests, and concerns

Feedback is the gift that keeps on giving. You can end the one-on-one meeting by asking for feedback and concerns from employees. These meetings are a great time to find out what you could do to make work more accessible and more productive for everyone. 

What Do You Ask In A One-On-One Meeting?

One-on-one questions might be a bit difficult to get off because managers struggle with questions to ask to prevent it from turning into a robotic interaction. These meetings are not supposed to turn into a report session or an uncomfortable interaction for both parties. To ensure that you have more productive meetings with your team members, you need questions that will open the floor for the kind of conversations you want to have with them.

We have made a list of tried and trusted one-on-one questions to give you the best results (or check out the top 10 questions here). As time goes on and you feel more confident, you can tailor the questions to suit your organization and the individual better.

To get the best results from your one-on-ones use Assembly's template to start. Get more info here.

Category 1: Questions About The Team Member's Life Outside The Office
  1. How are you?

This is perhaps the most asked question in history. Nonetheless, it’s best to know how your teammates actually feel about the meeting. If they are happy to speak with you, then the meeting is off to a great start. But, if they are nervous, you can ask more leading questions to help them relax. 

  1. What's the last thing you did that you are proud of?

Now you're getting a bit personal, but not too personal that it looks like you're intruding on their privacy. People like to know that their accomplishments matter, no matter how little. 

  1. Were you able to reach your targets this week? Is there any way I can support you in accomplishing your tasks for the upcoming week?

At this point, you're getting into the business end of things. Team members or employees you speak to in a one-on-one meeting should be able to talk to you about the work challenges that may be hindering them from carrying out their tasks. Let them know that a part of your duty is to make their work-life easier by offering whatever help you can.

Category 2: Questions Centered Around Their Career Goals
  1. What plans do you have for your career, and how far have you come in achieving your goals?

Knowing their career goals and the ones they have ticked off the list will help you position yourself better to help them achieve their goals.

  1. What part of your job do you enjoy and look forward to the most every day?

This question is designed to help you support the employees in their professional development. By knowing what they enjoy, you can understand what tasks and projects may align with their goals in the future. 

  1. Are your current responsibilities helping or hindering your ability to reach your goals?

Providing the employee with relevant responsibilities or offering them a position that aligns with their goals can help you retain them. The answer to this question allows you to see if the employee is appropriate for their job. 

Category 3: Questions To Determine The Level Of Employee Satisfaction
  1. Are you happy or sad with your current job, duties, and position?

You can ask the employees to elaborate their answers with more details and examples. They could also gauge their feedback using rates - on a scale of 1 - 10, with 10 being the highest. The answer to this question allows you to determine how employees really feel about their jobs. It could also help inform a manager's decision to promote an employee or reconsider a pending promotion. 

  1. How do you feel about your work-life balance? What can we do to create a more positive work-life balance for you?

This question gives you a glimpse into the reality of most of your employees. It allows you to gain valuable insights into how the company's organizational practices affect them and if they're coping fine. 

Category 4: Questions For Self-Improvement
  1. What do you hope to get out of these one-on-one meetings?

This question will ensure that you and the employees are on the same track (or not) with the aim of the meeting. It also allows you to gauge the employees' enthusiasm towards the sessions, allowing you to coin the agenda for future meetings accordingly. 

  1. Is there anything we didn't discuss that you'd like to talk about?

An open-ended question like this gives room for more discussion that may even occur after the one-on-one meeting. It allows the employee to express themselves without the hindrance of the meeting agenda and time. One-on-one meetings are critical for successful management, but a consistent and productive structure is even more critical. 

Making Your Next One-On-One Discussion Productive

A productive one-on-one discussion will allow teammates to feel more connected to their work. It will also add a greater sense of ownership to their jobs, leading to increased dedication and improved results. They can use 1:1 with Direct Report templates to structure their talking points. 

Most importantly, as a manager, you will gain insights that may have been missed without a dedicated one-on-one meeting. And templates will help you create a functional one-on-one discussion with your team members, regardless of how many you manage daily. 

Here's an effective 1:1 with manager template to get you started.

Ensure engagement and show the commitment to growth with your direct reports. Add structure, transparency, and accountability to one-on-one meetings with Assembly. Book a demo to learn more.

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