I recommend that you divide your 121s into three sections.
The first 10 minutes are for your team member to share what matters to them – but the second 10 minutes are yours.
The art of using this time well is to have some really well chosen and insightful questions.
Some of the questions that I think have been most effective for me are:
- What else should I know about your work?
- What would you like to tell me about this organisation?
- Where do you see opportunities that we do not exploit?
- Where do you see problems that we have not yet recognised?
- What would you like to know from me about the organisation?
- What do I do that you would like me to do more of?
- What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?
- What would you like me to start doing?
Now some of these questions require that you have a pretty strong relationship already, so they are probably not for the very first 121 meetings. Wait until you have developed some rapport and trust.
It is important that you are prepared to listen to the answers and respond effectively.
If you are not prepared to act on the response to a question, or fully explain your reasons for not acting, then it is best not to ask the question.
Remember – this is a 121. It is not the Spanish Inquisition. You will probably not have time for more than 1 or 2 questions – especially if you are also using the 121 to give feedback and to coach (which you should be!). 121s are about regular, frequent conversations that allow you to cover ground over a prolonged period of time. So don’t rush it.
What questions have worked well for you in 121s?
More great questions here.