First time manager tip: 1 on 1 meeting questions and agenda

Gabe Kwakyi
4 min readOct 21, 2022
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Read the following quick tips of 1–1 routines in order to either gain a few new ideas of how to run better 1:1s, or reinforce habits you’re actively practicing.

Watch a video version of these tips, and explore how working with a leadership coach can help you become a more effective leader.

Ideas for 1–1 Questions

Practice an organized management style and increase the chances that your 1–1 conversations will consistently produce meaningful outcomes by using a standard set of questions:

What are you excited about right now?

This question enables your 1–1s to begin on a high and engaging note from the start, which can anchor the tone for the whole meeting in more bigger picture-thinking (where your value as a manager can help explore/create sustainable new opportunities), rather than the problems/complains/fires (where your value as a manager will be relentlessly drained, with little sustainable growth).

Listen intently to what your reports says in response to this question — this is not only a fun question, but can generate key insights that can inform your people development strategy.

What’s top of mind? Or — where’s your head at?

This is another good opener, or expansion question from the first question (what else is top of mind?). For any items your report seems stuck in, try hard to resist jumping into solving their problems or giving them the answer. Put your coach’s hat on and ask whether they would be open to coaching on how to navigate their challenges. Focus on helping them to identify their blockers, resources, options, and evaluating the best route forward. As a manager, the more you coach/counsel and the less you tell/advise, the more scalable your efforts will be and the stronger your team will be.

What’s one thing I can do to help you this week?

Read this prior leadership tips essay for more insight into the benefits of this question.

Are there any pressure points in or outside of work you want to put on my radar, even if there’s no solution here?

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Gabe Kwakyi

A curious mind and a passionate personal development coach, specializing in life, career, and business coaching for people in the technology and business fields