Your First One-on-One Meeting as a New Manager

Everything you need to know to make your first one-to-one as a new manager – and everyone after it – a huge success.

October 24, 2022
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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?
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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?
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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.
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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?
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Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
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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?
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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?
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What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
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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?
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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?

When you first step into management it can take a while to get used to being the one taking the lead in one-to-ones with your reports.

But get them right and they can be your secret weapon.

Here’s everything you need to know to make your first one-to-one as a new manager – and every one after it – a huge success.

What is the first thing to do as a new manager?

Your success as a manager is going to live and die on your ability to get the most from your team. And to get the best from anyone, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to people management isn’t going to cut it: you need to tailor your approach to each teammate.

So, your first act as a manager needs to be to get to know the people you’ll be working with.  Within a few weeks of starting your role, make sure to grab a coffee with everyone on your team. 

These meetings shouldn’t be formal, and no one needs to prepare for them. They should just be about getting to know the people you’ll be working with and letting them know they can always grab you for a word about anything they want to talk about.  

It’s best to have these meetings face-to-face if possible. And be sure to give them your full attention while they’re going on (that means no phones and laptops). Be sure to book in time with everyone from senior staff to interns, too – the mark of a good manager is that you’re there for everyone on your team, not just the most “important” people.

Book a demo of Assembly to quickly and easily set up one-to-one meetings across your organization. 

What do you discuss in the first one-on-one?

Your first one-to-one with a teammate is the perfect chance to:

  • Get a sense of how they’re feeling about their work.
  • Learn what they’re responsible for – and how those responsibilities are going.
  • Learn what their career aspirations are.
  • Find out where they need a helping hand. 
  • Ask if there’s anything they’d like to change about the way things are done.

You hopefully built up a bit of a rapport with each of your teammates when you grabbed that coffee. So, when your first formal one-to-one rolls around, they’ll ideally be more comfortable opening up about their career aspirations and anything they’d like to see done differently than they would if it’s their first time properly talking to you.

The biggest thing you want to get across to your people in that first one-to-one is that you take their wellbeing – and their career aspirations – seriously. And you can do this by focusing the meeting around:

  • What their responsibilities are.
  • What they like doing.
  • What they’d like to do more of.
  • Where they see their career going.
  • Anything they think should be changed.

Making these points the focal point of your first one-to-one with each of your new teammates is sure to set your working relationship off on the right foot.

Try Assembly to make setting up your first one-to-one as easy as possible.

How can a manager be successful with one-on-one meetings?

Make sure you’re ticking every box in the manager’s checklist for an effective one-on-one meetings to make sure these meetings are the most valuable on your calendar every month:

Create an agenda

Your meetings will be far more focused and productive if you distribute an agenda ahead of time. 

So, keep a running list of everything you want to cover in a one-to-one in a one-to-one template – and encourage your teammate to do the same. Be sure to include any important updates your report needs to be kept in the loop on and specific items and projects you want to catch up with them on. 

This will ensure you’ll get a clear overview of where your report is at with everything on their plate. Plus, it will prevent your reports from ever feeling ambushed during a one-to-one (a surefire way of making them feel like you don’t have their best interests at heart).

Prepare questions to ask

Asking the right questions in one-to-one can encourage your reports to open up about their career aspirations, how you can get the best out of them, and how you could be doing better.

Plain and simple questions are one of the most powerful tools in a manager’s toolbox. The top one-on-one meeting questions to ask direct reports can help you:

  • Make sure you’re on the same page as a report.
  • Spot how engaged a report is with their work.
  • Understand a report’s career aspirations.
  • Improve a report’s performance.

Come prepared to every one-to-one with a list of thoughtful questions to make sure your one-to-ones are successful

Prepare possible answers to employee questions

To get the most from your one-to-ones, you shouldn’t just quiz your reports with your own questions. You should also invite them to ask you any questions of their own – and be prepared to answer them properly.

Questions your reports might want to ask their manager are more than likely to cover:

  • What’s going on at the company.
  • What opportunities there are in the company to progress their careers.
  • What they can do to land a pay rise during their next annual review.
  • What they could be doing better.

If you don’t have an answer to any of these questions your teammates are liable to start thinking they have a brighter future elsewhere. So, be sure to spend a bit of time thinking these things through before you head into your meeting. 

Set up a one-on-one schedule

To get the most from your one-to-ones, you should set them up as a recurring meeting in your and your reports’ calendars and then consider them set in stone. 

That means treating a catch-up with a teammate with as much respect as you would a meeting with a board member or investor. So, no canceling or rearranging unless you absolutely have to (or it would suit your employee to do so). 

This not only shows your team that they’re your priority, but also sets the expectation that they’re accountable for updating you on their progress towards their goals on a regular basis. 

Try Assembly to set up regular one-to-ones with just a few clicks of your mouse.

What is one thing managers commonly get wrong with one-on-one meetings?

40% of employees say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

And yet respondents to one survey said it’s been an average of 50 days since they last felt recognized in any way at work.

A simple way to avoid this trap is to bake employee recognition into each and every one-to-one meeting with your team.  

Studies have shown that recognition is most effective when it’s given immediately, regularly and consistently. So, make sure you turn up to every one-to-one with at least one bit of praise for your employee. It doesn’t matter if this is big or small – showing an employee you recognize and appreciate their contributions to your team can go a huge way to boosting their engagement levels at work.

The final word

Follow these simple steps during your first one-to-one meeting with each of your new teammates and you’ll lay solid foundations for some strong working relationships.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide
Employee recognition guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered