Conversation Guide for Managers

We heard you're not too familiar with Check-ins, so we thought we'd help! Here is a guide to get started with check-ins, but feel free to tweak it to your needs. Want to print the guide for easy reference at your desk? Here you go!.

Guide 1 - Regular 1:1

Regular weekly or bi-weekly conversations are great to have. I sit next to my manager and talk with her daily, and I still schedule 1:1s! in PiiQ. Simply create a Check-in with the following title and topics.

Title: Weekly 1:1

Topic 1: Conversation Starters
Topic 2: Core Agenda
Topic 3: Team Health/Communication
Topic 4: Achievements

Conversation Starters

Don't be that manager! You know who I am talking about, the one who doesn't get to know their team. Work isn’t all about goals, strategies, and tasks. Employees crave workplace culture, so build it up! You don't need to be best friends, show that you listen and care. Ask about the weekend, vacations, or follow-up on something mentioned the week before! Establishing, maintaining, or repairing trust should be a major objective during your 1:1 conversation. A strong team needs a strong foundation of communication. This may sound obvious for relationship building, but it can often be forgotten.

Conversation Ideas

  • How are things?
  • How was your weekend?
  • Do you have any vacation plans coming up?
  • Is there anything exciting coming up?

Core Agenda

Agendas are great for when you and an employee need some prep time first. Everyone is busy, and 1:1s are not the time to waste! Allow people to prepare, and bring any data or follow-up that might be helpful. Be a team player, and keep the agenda open to edits for both people. This can be achieved in PiiQ by adding topics and a few notes in your Check-in ahead of time. Then when the meeting begins, you can prioritize the agenda topics, and immediately start discussing. Ask questions like: “If we don’t get to topic 3 today because we are focused on the discussion for topics 1 & 2, would that be okay or would it be best to cut off discussions to make room?” There are always two sides to a 1:1, so collaborate! 

Conversation Ideas

  • What's your number one work priority today?
  • Have you hit any major milestones or achievements since we last spoke?
  • What’s your top priority between now and the next time we meet?
  • Is there anything keeping you from hitting your goals for the week, anyway I can help?
  • How can I better support you?
  • Is there anything in the short term that I can do to help you be successful?
  • What things would you change about your role/responsibilities if you could?
  • How’s your workload? Can you do your best work each day?

Team Health/ Communication

Not all issues are meant to be discussed at team meetings. Employees might have a minor concern that really is nothing, but when it lingers too long it just grows. Let 1:1s provide an opportunity to raise concerns or observations, and keep the team dynamic healthy! It’s easy for managers to not intimately notice all interactions during their teams’ day to day activities. This can be magnified with global teams and remote employees. It’s important for managers to treat the health of the team as they would any other relationship; they should look to resolve issues, promote trust, and remove roadblocks. People always say a healthy team is a happy team, or at least we say it!

Conversation Ideas

  • How are you feeling at work?
  • Do you notice any issues within our team that are affecting you or someone else?
  • Do you notice any team-wide gaps that we should look to address?
  • Do you notice any bottlenecks or silos on the team?
  • Are there any employees who may need additional training or coaching?
  • Have you had any opportunities to train someone on the team since we last spoke?
  • Are there any projects you are working on in partnership with another team member? How is that going?


It's time to add some excitement to this 1:1, right? What better way than to recognize achievements within your team! Taking a minute to actively recognize someone for their great work promotes a positive work environment. Make sure to not only call these out in 1:1s, but prompt encouragement and create opportunities for employees to achieve.

Conversation Ideas

  • Any wins since we last spoke?
  • Nice job on X, what are some key takeaways you learned from this?
  • Have you noticed anyone going above and beyond on the team, if so how?

Guide 2 - Development

There was quite a lot to discuss regarding 1:1s, which is not surprising since its all about communicating and building relationships with your team! Employees generally expect some guidance along the way, too, which can be captured with a long-term development check-in in PiiQ. Simply create a Check-in with the following title and topics.

Title: Development Plan

Topic 1: Employee Development

Employee Development

Today's workforce is switching more and more to millennials, and a big expectation is manager led development and learning opportunities. This is great because it means your organization wants to get better, and you can help them! It also creates a happier workforce and higher employee retention, benefits all around! Employee development is ongoing and should be its own primary focus for a check-in.

Employees aren't going to know all the answers right away, which is why they need development; good managers help fill in the gaps. You might have an employee that knows the type of work they like doing, but doesn’t know the job title or training to get them there. Career paths can be vertical as well as horizontal, so don’t be afraid if employees start describing a role outside of your department. The best managers promote movement when it makes sense because they understand the value behind a great employee! Help to create a timeline and development plan to achieve their career goals. Retaining engaged employees is far less expensive than hiring new employees and can add massive amounts of value if they’ve worked in multiple departments.

Conversation Ideas

  • Have you come across any training that would help you be more effective in your current role?
  • What is your 3-5 year plan?
  • Tell me about your ideal career path.
  • How do you feel about your career progression to date?
  • Are there any questions I can help you answer as it pertains to your growth?
  • Do you need help identifying the learning opportunities to get you to the next level?
  • What are the key learning opportunities that will get you to the next level?
  • Have you learned anything new since we last met?
  • Have you come across learning opportunities outside of work?
  • Are there any projects, problems, or goals you’d like to work on that would give you experience in this area?

Keep up the momentum!

Follow up is key after these major discussions. Make sure your team knows you care enough to keep track and progress! Think about key milestones needed to help them achieve their next steps. Some things to consider: Are their expectations realistic? Does their career growth align with a position available in the company in the medium to long term?

The employee’s career path may not fit one to one with the company’s objectives or future job openings, just be honest. Successful managers can propose options that overlap, suggest similar roles and help employees research future to help them given or help to create a role from scratch. These situations are always unique and being flexible is key.

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