what should a new manager ask to get to know employees better?

A reader writes:

I recently was promoted to a supervisor position within my company. I plan on having one-on-one meetings to get to know my direct reports better. Any suggestions of questions I should ask them?

Yes!  First, before you meet, I’d review their job descriptions, any written goals that exist for their positions, their professional backgrounds (hopefully you can get a copy of their resumes from HR or whoever), and their past performance evaluations.

When meeting with them, I’d ask the following:

What do you see as the main goals of your role?

What are the most important things for you to achieve this year?

Are you on track to doing that? Are there milestones to meet on the way? What things are you worried might get in the way?

What’s your most pressing project this week / this month?  (Follow-up questions should stem naturally from this — about context, timeline, steps, etc.)

What do you like the most about your job? The least?

What would help you do your job better?

Is there anything I should know about how you like to work?

I’d also talk a bit about your management style and what the person can expect from you.

You should also take this time to set up a system for checking in, answering questions, etc. going forward. (For example, you might decide that you’ll have a regular weekly meeting, plus ad hoc conversations throughout the rest of the week as the need arises. But plan to err on the side of investing a good amount of time talking in the beginning as you’re getting to know how the other works.)

There’s a ton more you could cover, but I’d focus here for a first meeting.

Oh, and if the person doesn’t have clear goals for the year, plan on establishing them fairly soon. It’s way easier to manage people if they have clear goals that you’re managing them to.

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