I ask five questions in my 1-1s:
- The housekeeping question: “What (if anything) have you worked on in the past week which we should make note of for your self evaluation and performance review?”
- The warmup question: “What was the highlight of your past week, work related or not?” I stole that from The Manager’s Handbook.
- The learning question: “Where have you failed in the past week, work related or not?”
- The open-ended question: “What’s on your mind?” 80% of the 1-1 is spent here. Note that it’s not “what’s up” or “how’s it going” or “how are you” because those are all leading questions.
- Finally, the golden question: “What about this conversation was most and least helpful?” I don’t ask this on every 1-1, just the ones that were more coaching-oriented.