My Favourite Questions for a First 1-on-1

You can read a lot about 1-on-1s and why you should have some with your team on the web. However, especially as a first time manager I wondered how to get started. How would the first 1-on-1 be? What questions should I ask? What want I get out of the first 1-on-1?

I started with three questions. “What are your favorite things to work on?” and “What have your past managers done that you’d like me to also do or not do?” were both taken from Lighthouse.

The anwers to those questions are valuable information and helped me a lot in supporting each person to work on things they like and how not to manage them.

The third and my favourite question is “What do you expect from me as your team lead?“. Not a single person could answer this question in the first 1-on-1. They took it as homework and answered the question later.

Example answers:

  • Put trust in me and let me do my work.
  • I want to be challenged.
  • Don’t micro manage me.
  • Pass on responsibilities to the team.
  • Give me direct and fast feedback, so I can learn faster.
  • Be my goto person and take care of my concerns.
  • Get project management tasks and backlog priorisation discussions out of my way.
  • Create a pleasant and productive working atmosphere.
  • Represent the opinions of the team in management meetings and discussions.
  • Facilitate decision making within the team and make decisions if the team can’t.
  • Mentor me in technical and interpersonal work-related concerns.

At that time I had almost no experience managing people and only a vague understanding of what my team might expect from me. Looking back the answers helped me a lot to better empathize with each person of my team which in turn enabled me to better manage them.

What is your favorite question for a first 1-on-1 and why?