As a leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure that your team members are happy, fulfilled, and engaged in their work. This is no easy task, but one tool you can use to help is scheduling 1×1 meetings with them. In order to make sure you communicate your heart of care for your team, this meeting shouldn’t focus on their job and performance but rather be a space where you make it clear that they, their health, and their happiness are a priority for you.

“Great,” you think, “but how do I make sure the meeting goes down the desired path?”

For the last six years, I have asked my team members the same three questions every single week. I deeply care for each person on my team, and these three questions ensure that I understand what is happening in their lives. The good news is that these three questions can be easily transferred to your team, too, no matter what industry you happen to work in.

What are the three questions? They are really simple, but allow you to create a powerful connection with others over time. 

  1. What has brought you life this last week?
  2. What has drained you this last week?
  3. What is on your radar/what do you need from me?

Let’s break down the reasoning behind each question and explore how they can help you become a better leader.

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1. What has brought you life in the last week?

This question is all about recognizing and celebrating your team members’ successes and things they enjoy, big or small. 

When your team members feel acknowledged for their accomplishments, they are more likely to feel motivated and continue to produce great work.

(I make a point to ensure they understand that these questions don’t just need to revolve around their job/work.) Additionally, understanding what brings each person on your team life can help you tailor their work environment to better suit them. If, for example, I know what brings them life, I can make sure to both provide, and grow these environments when they show up.

As Simon Sinek says, “Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives that aren’t your own.”

2. What has drained you in the last week?

This is the exact opposite to question 1, and it holds equal importance.

It’s essential to recognize the factors that drain your team members, whether it’s a challenging project or an interpersonal conflict. 

As a leader, you can help alleviate these issues by offering support or finding solutions to mitigate the situation. By doing so, you can help your team members avoid burnout and stay engaged. 

Again, I make a point to ensure they understand that these questions don’t just need to revolve around their job/work. Understanding what drains each person on your team can help you better care for the person, rather than just “oversee an employee”. 

If, for example, something drained them this week, and then a month from now, they mention that the same thing is going to happen again, I know it will be a draining week. This allows me to operate with and approach them with the extra grace they may need that week.

As organizational psychologist Adam Grant puts it, “Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.”

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3. What is on your radar/what do you need from me?

This question is all about understanding what your team members need from you in order to be successful. Whether it’s additional resources, clarification on a project, or simply some guidance, it’s your job as a leader to make sure your team members have what they need to do their best work. 

Sometimes people can be unsure how to approach their boss on something they need from them. Frankly, they may be afraid to bring up the topic of needing YOU to do something for THEM. Whether it is something physical, or they just need you to get something done, so that they can continue to do their job. 

By taking the initiative to open up the question for them, you can make it easier for them, as they don’t have to figure out how to bring up a potentially awkward conversation. You create an open and honest dialogue with your team members, which can help build trust and foster a positive work environment. 

As former President John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

Asking these three questions consistently can help you create a more engaged and productive team. But it’s essential to keep in mind that asking the questions is only the first step. You must also actively listen to your team members’ responses and take action when necessary.

For example, if a team member mentions that a certain project has been draining for them, you could offer to redistribute some of their workload or provide additional resources to help them complete the project more efficiently. Alternatively, if a team member mentions needing more guidance on a particular project, you could schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss the project in more detail and offer your insights.

Ultimately, the key to effective leadership is understanding that your role is to serve your team members, not the other way around. By asking these three questions and actively listening to your team members’ responses, you can create a work environment that is supportive, productive, and fulfilling for everyone involved.

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