I have collected the following list of check-in questions over three decades and have used many of them. I identify my personal favorites in the “My Favorite Questions” section (and highlight those same questions with an asterisk when they appear in the larger list). Other questions have been recommended by colleagues.
For some questions I provide multiple variations. Slight changes in the way you phrase a question can determine, among other things, the average amount of time each person will take to respond, and how deeply or superficially people will respond.
As an example, if you want people to share how they are doing at the start of a meeting, you could ask them to “share one word that describes how your day is going.” Or you could ask “please tell us how you are doing—really.” With 24 participants, the former check-in might take three minutes, while the latter could easily take 40. Frame the question in the manner that supports your meeting goals, your time constraints, and your group’s needs.
The truth is, if you tend to lead groups that have a shorter duration—a trainer who primarily delivers three-session training programs, for example—you don’t need that many good check-in questions. Identify a dozen or so that work well for you, and you can use them again and again.
If you meet with the same groups over long periods of time, you can revisit this archive regularly to find questions.
Remember that you can create great questions too! There are almost endless possibilities for effective check-in questions, so please don’t restrict yourself to this list. You know your group, your context, and your goals better than anyone, so be creative and make up your own. (And if you discover a good one, send it to me: I’ll add it to this list.)
Questions can focus more on the substance of a group’s work (What is your goal for today’s meeting? What’s one thing that you’ve learned in the field that we should consider today?), or on building relationships and having fun (What’s a favorite pastime? What was a highlight of your weekend?).
I have therefore divided the questions into two broad categories which I call “Questions for Connecting” and “Questions for Working.” The former focus on enabling participants to get to know one another better; the latter are more directly tied to the work that a group is gathered to perform.
To be clear, there isn’t a solid line between these two categories. Stronger relationships contribute to higher performance. Questions like “What’s something that you feel proud of?” or “What’s something that someone else on the team has contributed to our work that has had an impact upon you?” can be as relevant to team performance as they are to relationship-building. The main difference is that connecting questions have a bit more latitude to roam down novel and unexpected paths. Substantive questions stay closer to a group’s process and central purpose.
I have further divided these two categories of question into subcategories. For Connecting, a large group of general questions is followed by questions related to childhood and family, to time and place, and finally questions that I call “superficial.”
The Working questions are divided into the following sections:
- Working Together
Please remember that perhaps the most powerful set of “working” questions are those that are intimately tied to your work. You and others familiar with your group (including participants) are best situated to create these questions.
A consortium of grapefruit growers might share: “What’s something that you have observed about this year’s crop so far?” A corporate executive committee might each offer “Something that is keeping me up at night?” A group of elder-care professionals could share “One strategy you have for avoiding burnout?” A team of senior salespeople could share “Your most exciting sale ever.”
Don’t let their absence from this list lead you to forget to create such relevant and potent questions.
There is a set of check-out questions in the final section.
Please note that I use “X” to designate places where you need to fill in the context and content appropriate for your group and its needs.
My Favorite Questions
The following questions are like reliable tools whose handles have worn to fit my grip. I put my faith in them, and they have performed for me again and again, in a range of settings.
Note that this idiosyncratic collection of questions is particularly suited to me—my personality, my culture, the work I do, and the contexts in which I work. They might not be right for you; in fact, one of my preferred questions could flop for you. Create your own list of favorites by experimenting and identifying questions which perform well in your world.
Please share your name, position, and tenure?
Sometimes known as “the basics,” this is one of the most simple, no-risk check-ins. As noted elsewhere, humans have a deep, animal need to know this information about strangers—ideally presented in the person’s own voice—before they can feel comfortable. As such, this is the essential place to begin when people don’t know one another.
This sentence stem prompts participants to complete the thought. I often append it on the end of the basics as above. Its many benefits include that it doesn’t take much time to answer; it elicits diverse answers (“chocolate, fishing, getting up early to watch the sunrise, my kids, old movies, politics, reading technical journals, the Pittsburgh Penguins”); it brings a bit of each person’s “life-outside-of-work” into the room; and it generates a positive, uplifting feeling. It also gets people chuckling, which is healthy for any group.
How are you doing today?
This question asks participants to share a top-of-mind summary of what’s going on in their world, and in various forms it’s the default way that many mature groups begin their meetings. For many, the expression “checking in” actually means responding to one of the variations of this question, which can elicit responses that are superficial or deep, quick or lengthy.
What are your goals for this meeting?
It’s often valuable to anchor participants in what they hope to accomplish at a gathering. This surfaces their interests while it activates a sense of agency and shared responsibility for the meeting. In addition, it provides insights that better enable you to guide the group toward a satisfactory outcome.
What’s something we wouldn’t know about you by looking? Humans inevitably make up stories about one another based upon scant information, and these stories can get in the way of knowing who people truly are. Responses to this question quickly make participants more multidimensional than they first appear: The introverted CFO is in a punk band; the former gang member likes reading history books; the buff cop cares for his elderly aunt. Such surprises result in a “pause and reappraisal” experience that is an essential habit for any person who wants to work well with others.
Tell us something about your name
Our names are one of the oldest and most intimate things we have. This question typically elicits compelling stories that touch on culture, family, childhood, and vulnerability. The responses often tangibly illustrate diversity as well. Simply ask people to say their full name, and then share something about the name. It’s that easy.
What was one highlight from your weekend/vacation/holiday (or one thing you are most looking forward to about it)?
Not the deepest question, but an easy, quick and enjoyable way to encourage participants to bring their “outside” lives into a meeting.
What is something you wanted to be when you grew up?
A lightning fast question that nevertheless generates interesting, heartfelt responses. This one usually gets people laughing, and even participants who know one another are often surprised by the answers. I tend to include this one as part of a short set of questions.
Where did you grow up, and what’s one thing you liked about growing up there?
Same as above.
What’s your favorite thing to watch on TV?
This modest question has many strengths. It’s quick. It’s low risk, yet leads to diverse and revealing answers. Perhaps most significantly, it generates energy, connections, and positive feelings as people share their viewing passions. Great for participants who are meeting for the first time as well as those who know one another fairly well. (Perhaps not as good for larger groups. It gets a bit old after 6 to 8 people answer.)
Pick something out of your pocket, purse or briefcase, and share what that object says about you.
A simple one that’s quick and that has a little gimmick. It works well.
What’s something that you are grateful for and why?
There is growing research on the benefits—to personal health as well as performance—to feeling gratitude. This question brings it into the room. It can be useful to exclude family members as an acceptable answer (as in, “Share something you are grateful for in addition to your family?”). Otherwise, once one person has mentioned family, others feel pressure to say it too or it will appear that they don’t love their family! And then it’s monotonous and boring. Don’t use this question for a very new group, as it can appear too “touchy-feely” to check-in skeptics.
Tell us something about your formative years that shaped you as a person and influenced how you show up at work.
A powerful question that people use to connect their personal and work lives in range of compelling ways. Groups feel different—safer, more engaged, more connected—after this one.
What’s something you appreciate about working here (on this team, in this division, at this organization, etc.)? Alternatively, what’s something you find challenging about working here?
This is another question I often use in smaller groups but that can work well in large groups if the timing is right. (It requires some trust to answer honestly.) People find the question compelling, and are often extremely curious about what their fellows will say.
What is one way that people misjudge you?
I employ this question more often for pair or small group work, but it can be effective in larger groups too if they’ve built some trust. Like the question above about “What wouldn’t we know by looking?” this one disrupts the stories people tell about one another (even those who have known one another for years). It’s also an open door for self-revelation. I typically add a bit of explanation when I ask it, as in: ”One way that, because of your gender, the way you carry yourself, your profession, where you work, your size, your age, your race, your appearance, people assume you are one way when you are not that way?” Responding to his question takes some time, but for a group whose work warrants the investment, it’s a real winner.
What value would you like to suggest should guide us during this meeting?
I often rely on this question for potentially contentious meetings. I usually use it as part of an extended check-in with multiple questions. People share values like “humility,” “patience,” “open-mindedness,” and “respect.” Responding to this question has a powerful inspirational and prophylactic effect on groups.
Please share one of the following: an insight/“aha,” an appreciation, a commitment, or a hope.
This is my current favorite check-out question for trainings and workshops. Answers are usually heartfelt, deep and short, it provides choice and variety, and all participants find something authentic to say in response. If the group has worked together effectively, a few participants typically express something heartfelt about how much they have “appreciated” the experience and their peers; such warmth feels good in the room at the close. I allow participants to pass, but very rarely does someone choose to do so.
What are you taking with you as a result of this meeting, and/or what are you leaving behind?
This effective check-out is well suited for the final meeting of a group that has met for some time. Use the analogy of packing your luggage for a trip: participants should identify something (a misconception, a fear, a concern) that they are “leaving behind,” and something (an insight, a feeling, a new relationship) that they are taking with them.
One thing that’s surprised, encouraged, or inspired you about our work?
Another strong and often used check-out, particularly for a group that has made progress and will continue to work together in the future.
Questions for Connecting
- Please share your name, position, tenure (aka, “the basics)*
- Tell us your full name (including middle name) and tell us one thing about your name.*
- I like…*
- Share an interest of yours that others might not know about.
- What is something you like to do in you free time and why do you like it?
- What’s something (an activity, a person, a place, etc.) that gives you joy?
- What excites you these days?
- What’s one thing you are going to do today that is not work-related?
- What’s one thing to which you currently devote time/energy outside of work?
- What’s something we wouldn’t know about you by looking?*
- What’s something—that you’re proud of, excited by, or interested in—that most people here don’t know about you?
- If you had to narrow it down, what’s one of the most central driving forces in your life and why?
- What is something you want others/us to know about you?
- What’s the most important thing we should know about you?
- What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
- What’s one thing that is top of mind for you personally?
- Where have you come from today?
- What’s something good that’s happening in your life?
- What’s a current challenge you are facing?
- Share a crossroads in which you find yourself at this stage of your life?
- Most of us climb a number of metaphorical “mountains” in our lives. What is one mountain you have climbed, and what did you learn from the experience?
- In a single sentence, describe one thing in your life that you are grateful for and why?*
- What’s an unusual/strange job you’ve had during the course of your career?
- What is one highlight from the past week?
- What is a high and low from your week?
- Please share one thing you’ve been proud of relative to your work and career: an accomplishment, an attitude, an impact…?
- Share something you are passionate about?
- Share a way in which you are at least a bit peculiar (different, weird, unconventional, unique, etc.)?
- What do you find most challenging about your work-life, and what about you makes it so challenging?
- Share a recent success you’ve had, either at home or at work?
- What’s the hardest thing you have had to do (personally or professionally) since our last session?
- What is one thing you are looking forward to in the upcoming 12 months?
- What is something you are procrastinating on or need help with?
- Who is a hero to you and why?
- If you could do anything you wanted for work, what would you do?
- If you could live any other person’s life throughout history, whose life would you live and why?
- If you could be an eyewitness to any event in history, what event would you choose and why?
- If you could spend time with a companion in a beautiful setting, who would you like sitting next to you, and why?
- If you could have dinner with someone—political leader, celebrity, artist—who would it be, and why?
- If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose, and why?
- What’s something you’ve rebelled against in your life?
- Tell us one thing about your relationship with money? (or with art, athletics, politics, education, food, spirituality, etc.)
- What was your first job?
- Please share an expression or quotation that you like.
- If you were famous, what’s one thing you would do to prevent it from going to your head?
- If you won the lottery, what is one thing you would you do with the money (apart from paying off your bills)?
- What is something that you don’t have that you would you most like to own? Why?
- What’s one thing not related to work that you’ve been thinking about lately?
- What’s a high and low point of your life (overall? since our last meeting? in the past 24 hours?)?
- What is one way that people misjudge you?* (That is, because of your gender, the way you dress, the way you behave, the way you speak, your profession, where you work, your size, your age, your race, your appearance, people assume you are one way and you are not that way?)
- When are you at your absolute best?
- Share one way that you are different at home than you are at work?
- What is something you’ve learned—in general, about our work, about yourself—in the last 3 to 6 months?
- What are you looking forward to?
- What’s something that gives you hope (or inspiration, courage, etc.) lately?
- Where would you like to be in five years, ten years, twenty years?
- What is something you are afraid of?
- What’s a mistake you’ve made (or challenge you’ve had) that has led to positive things in your life?
- Share a time that you failed…
- How would you describe your cultural background, and what’s one thing you appreciate about it?*
- What’s something you appreciate about your community (or country, culture, family, place of employment, job, generation)?
- What’s one way you think you might be different from many people here?
- Describe a time when you were an outsider; how did you manage that?
- Tell us the story of how you first came into this work?
- What is the most significant holiday to you (or in your family), and why?
- What’s one thing you’d like to learn or get better at?
- What’s something you have learned recently that made a lasting impression on you?
- What’s one improvement you’d like to make (on yourself or otherwise)?
- What is one thing you would change about yourself if you could?
- If you could erase one problem from the world, what problem would you choose, and why?
- What’s something you are most proud of? (Note: consider excluding “family”; otherwise, everyone might feel compelled to say family.)
- What was one highlight from your weekend/vacation?*
- What are you most looking forward to about your weekend/vacation?*
- What do you like best about X (this project, your family, your job, this region, this season)?
- What’s been your favorite moment of vacation (the summer, this season, this project)?
- If you could choose to travel anywhere, where would you go, and why?
- What is a favorite place to go on vacation, and why?
- What’s the most beautiful place in the world to you?
- If you could live anywhere on this planet and take everything that you love with you, where would you choose to live? Why?
- When are you happiest, and why?
- What is a favorite musician (book, song, artist), and why?
- What is a book that had a big influence on your life?
- What is the last good book you read, and why did you like it?
- What makes you laugh, and why?
- What makes you cry, and why?
- When it comes to leading (managing, selling, creating), who was your most important teacher?
- Who has been a mentor to you in your life, and why?
- What is one thing about which you used to be prejudiced but are no longer?
- What is something you could teach others to make or do?
- Share one of your top strengths, as well as when you first became conscious that you had it.
- What superpower would you chose, and why?
- If you could magically gain one quality, skill, or ability, what would it be, and why?
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be, and why?
- How would you spend your time if you had an unexpected free day?
- What was a time when you were outside your comfort zone? What did you do, and what were the results?
- What’s one feeling you are quite comfortable with, and why?
- What’s one feeling that makes you uncomfortable and why?
- If you could choose to re-live a part of your life, what age would you choose, and why?
- What’s your favorite physical possession, and why?
- Pick something out of your pocket or purse and share with the group what it says about you (or why it’s important to you).*
- Please show us a favorite photo, and why it’s important to you (great for remote meetings).
- Please share something that’s on your desk, and why it’s important to you (great for remote meetings).
- If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you want to have with you?
- If you were to create a slogan for your life, what would it be? (Example: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow, we all die.”).
- If you were writing your autobiography, what might the title be and why?
Childhood and Family Questions
These questions, invitations to bring more of oneself to a gathering, can be very powerful ways to connect. Often people who’ve worked together for decades don’t know basic things about one another’s personal history.
- What is something you wanted to be when you grew up? *
- Where did you grow up, and what’s one thing you liked about growing up there? *
- Where were you born?
- Tell a story about yourself as a young person that captures something essential about who you were then. (How is that essence still part of you today?)
- Share one childhood experience that has an impact on how you live or work today.
- What event or experience from your childhood do you think shaped you the most?
- How many kids were in your family? Where were you in the birth order?
- Share a happy childhood memory?
- How has your childhood limited you? Benefited you?
- How are you like your mother or father? How are you unlike them?
- Share a story about your parents that might help us understand you?
- Share a story about your grandparents that might help us understand you?
- What is a nickname you’ve had during your life?
- Please share one thing you did as a teenager that you wish you hadn’t, regret now, or wouldn’t do again?
- Who was your favorite teacher as a kid and why?
- What is the first cartoon character that comes to mind for you?
- What is a childhood game you used to play?
- What was one of your favorite books as a child and why did you like it?
- If you could talk to a family member who is no longer alive, who would it be, and what would you want to talk about?
- In your childhood, what was your sense of belonging? (connection? safety? spirituality?)
Time and Place Questions
One way to create compelling questions is to link them to something going on around you. The connection could be work-related (what are your thoughts about the new logo, or the announcement of our office change?) or tied to general factors like the location and timing of your gathering.
Questions related to time
Not everyone celebrates the same holidays (or is a sports fan, likes food, etc.), so be sure to frame questions in a way that enables all participants to answer. Instead of “How did you feel about the Patriots’ loss?”, a better question might be: “Share one thought about how you spent the Super Bowl afternoon.”
- At holidays: What was a highlight of your winter holidays? What’s one of your holiday rituals/traditions?
- At New Years: What is a resolution you have for next year? A highlight of the year that is coming to a close? A personal or professional hope for the upcoming year?
- At Halloween: What is your favorite candy? What is a costume you remember dressing up in as a kid?
- At Thanksgiving: What is something that you are grateful for? What is one food that you like to eat at Thanksgiving?
- In the summer: Describe your perfect summer day?
- After major sporting events: What is one sports-related memory (either from when you played or from watching sports)?
- On a Friday: What’s one of your favorite things to do on the weekend?
Questions related to place
- What is a favorite beach memory? (When the meeting is at the beach)
- What do you like best about New York City? (When the meeting is held in that city)
- What’s one story or rumor you have heard about headquarters? (When the meeting gathers far-flung employees at their organization’s headquarters)
These questions can be risky. You ask people to spend valuable time on a check-in; if your question seems frivolous, then you may alienate them.
Still…sometimes questions like these can be just what you need: light, fun, humorous, and bonding.
Use superficial questions with caution, and in most circumstances definitely do not use them when the practice is new. (I rarely use these questions, with the exception of the first question about TV viewing.)
Note also that while some of these questions work fine in smaller groups of 4 to 6, they can get tiresome in larger groups.
- What is a favorite thing to watch on TV?*
- What are you binge-watching these days?
- What is a pet peeve of yours?
- What is your favorite food?
- What is your favorite color, and how does that color make you feel?
- Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight, or night? Why?
- Are you spring, summer, fall, or winter? Why?
- What’s your “at-bat” song?
- If you had to watch a sporting event on TV, what sport would you choose?
- If you could be a professional athlete, what sport would you play?
- If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose, and what character would you play?
- Burger or sandwich? Chocolate or vanilla? Dog or cat? Why?
- If you were an animal (or a sandwich, pizza, cocktail, dessert, drink, vegetable, candy bar), what would you be, and why?
- What is your favorite meal of the day (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)? Describe what it would be ideally?
- If you had to eat the same meal every day for a month, what would that meal be?
- If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
- What would you guess is the food that you eat the most? Why?
- What’s your favorite beverage when you need to change your mood or increase your energy?
Questions for Working
Finding out how group members are doing as you commence the meeting can improve it in a number of ways, including:
- it enables people to acknowledge and put aside distractions so they can focus on the task at hand
- it helps members understand why people are showing up as they are (e.g., they were up all night with a sick child, just got engaged, had a car accident on the way to work, just learned their manager is leaving)
- it enables people to receive or give support
- it enables you to modify the agenda to meet the group’s needs
For many groups, responding to this category of question is their default way to begin every meeting (and is often simply referred to as “checking in”).
- How are you doing today? *
- How are you feeling?
- How are you—really?
- Please share one word that describes how you are doing (or how your day is going)?
- Please share a bit about how your day has been so far?
- How are you doing, personally and professionally?
- What’s going on inside and outside as you arrive here today?
- What has your attention now?
- What words would you use to describe where your head is? Where your heart is?
- Please share one thing that’s going on for you outside of our work that will help people understand the wider context of your world right now.
- What’s something that’s going on for you that other people should know?
- Please share one thing that is top of mind for you personally, and one thing that is top of mind professionally?
- What were you doing/working on 10 minutes before this meeting began?
- If you weren’t in this meeting now, on what might you be focused?
- If your mind is going to drift from what we are doing here today, what will it drift to, and why?
- What’s been on your mind lately?
- Is there anything going on for you that might affect your participation here?
- What’s something you need to put aside now in order to focus on this meeting
- If you had an energy indicator like we use for batteries, what percentage of your energy would it say you are operating on these days?
- If you’re current mood/state-of-mind was a weather report, what would it be? (i.e., cloudy, thunder on the horizon, sunny and breezy, a nor’easter)
One interesting approach to help group members “arrive” is to initially encourage them, in silence, to “tune-in to themselves” for a minute or two. Follow this pause by asking group members to respond to one of the questions above. This practice builds self-awareness—one of the most important leadership capacities—and trust in the group as members become accustomed to being together in silence. It is higher risk for some groups, at least initially, but not a stretch for others.
The more you anchor a group’s work in what is motivating its members, the more successful you will be. What you learn from these check-in questions might lead you to modify your meeting’s goals, or to frame them in a way that more closely aligns with the group’s interests.
- What are your goals for this meeting?*
- What’s one goal you have for this meeting?
- Why did you choose/agree to be here?
- Please share a brief story of what drew you to participate in this meeting?
- Why did you accept the invitation to come to this meeting?
- Why is it important that you are here today?
- Why are you really here?
- What is your intention for this meeting?
- How valuable do you plan for this gathering to be?
- What’s possible here, and why is it important?
- Please share a word, short phrase, symbol, or metaphor that captures your aspirations for this group.
- In a single brief sentence, in your own words, and from your own perspective, answer this question: “Why are we here?”
- What is one assumption that you are making about this meeting/project that you’re not sure others share?
- What’s the best thing that could happen for us as a result of this meeting?
- What is your dream for this project?
- If you had to power to solve/eliminate one of the challenges we face, what would you select and what difference would it make?
- If you had to power to determine our focus, what would you choose and what difference would it make?
- What if we got this right? What would the impact be?
- What question, if answered, would make the most difference to our success?
- What opportunity do you see in this situation?
- What price have you paid to be here?
- Share a goal or intention you have for this meeting in no more than ten words.
- What question do you need answered by the end of this meeting?
- What burning question must we address in order to be successful?
- What do you want to explore here?
- What do you want to be thinking/feeling as you leave this gathering?
- Describe in one sentence what success would be like for you from this meeting?
- What needs to happen in this meeting to make it successful for you?
- What’s the minimum that you think we need to accomplish at this meeting?
- What has to happen at this meeting for you to leave saying “this was a satisfying and well spent day?”
- What area would you be most excited to improve here (at this organization, on this team, etc.)? What impact would this have?
- Imagine we have resolved X. What would you notice that is different from today?
- What else could this organization (or company, school, country, project, team) be?
- What most excites (or worries, concerns, troubles, jazzes, confuses) you about what we are here to do?
- What’s your biggest concern/hope/fear about this project/group?
- What do you hope to contribute to this project today?
- What are you most curious about today?
- If you knew we would not fail, what do you think we should attempt to do?
Collaboration can generate “collective intelligence,” the possibility that, working together, a group has the potential to be more insightful and creative than its members working independently. Perhaps the greatest resource any group has for getting smarter is the knowledge, the experiences and even the questions of its members.
- What questions do you have?
- What question/issue are you struggling with?
- What’s one thing you are thinking or feeling about our work as we begin?
- What sense do you make of all this?
- What I’m certain of is, what I’m unsure of is, and what I hope for is… (relative to our work)
- Share a personal insight or question related to our task.
- Share a crossroads that you find yourself in at this stage of the project around which we are assembled.
- In your estimation, what led us to this juncture? How did we end up here?
- What have you noticed since we last met related to our work/this project?
- Say a few words about your relationship to the material/topic we’ll be exploring at our meeting today.
- What concepts or models that we have explored have inspired or challenged you and why?
- What has surprised, encouraged, or moved you about our work to date?
- What’s one connection you have made so far to your learning, your leadership, your life, or our organization’s culture.
- Share something you’ve learned about our work since we’ve been together?
- What has inspired or challenged you about our work so far, and why?
- What’s one way that your understanding of our task has changed?
- What motivates you to face the current challenge?
- What’s one way that your attitude about our work has changed since we’ve worked together?
- What has become apparent since we last met?
- What’s missing from this picture so far? What is it we’re not seeing?
- What can we learn from what has happened?
- What have you thought about since our last meeting?
- How has our last meeting impacted you?
- What’s gone well since our last meeting?
- What do you want to affirm most from our last meeting?
- What connections have you made related to what we discussed/explored the last time we were together?
- What opportunity or possibility do you see in our situation?
- What about the current challenge can you imagine being grateful for in the future?
- What is one way that you are personally contributing to the challenge we face?
- How do you contribute to the thing you complain about the most?
- What is one shift in attitude or action you could take that might improve this situation?
- What are you noticing in your world that relates to our work?
- What’s one lesson you’ve learned from our work so far?
- What are you learning about your life and your leadership?
- What is an important learning you had (about X)? Answer in the form of a commandment, as in “Thou Shalt…”
- What’s something that has impressed you about what someone else has said or done here.
- What’s becoming clear for you?
- What do you know for sure (about X…)?
- How is this situation teaching you and making you better?
- What resentments do you hold that few people know about?
- What’s something you miss from before (…we changed our process, we combined organizations, we worked this way, etc.)?
- Share an observation or reflection about our work (or our field, our purpose, our organization, etc.) that interests you.
- What makes you optimistic/gives you hope about our project/work?
- Do you see any parallels from other experiences that might apply to our work?
- What’s something that you think we’d benefit from keeping in mind at today’s meeting?
- What’s a current challenge you are wrestling with?
- What challenges do you see in what we are trying to do? What’s the biggest challenge?
- What acts of courage are required of you/us at this juncture in our work?
- If you could invite someone you respect or admire to sit beside you and offer advice and support during this meeting, who would that be and what might they say?
- From whose help do you think our work would benefit, and why?
Most people need appreciation, and it’s a powerful way to energize and motivate individuals and groups. Appreciation increases people’s sense of connection to one another, and often deepens their commitment to their shared task.
- What’s something you appreciate in groups?
- What’s something you appreciate about this group?
- What’s something you are proud of about how you have showed up on this team/in this group?
- What’s one thing that you’re really proud of at work (or in any part of your life)?
- What’s one thing that you’ve done this week that you feel proud of?
- What do you appreciate most about the work we are doing?
- What’s something you appreciate about working here—on this team, in this division, at this organization, etc.? *
- What aspect of this project do you find most satisfying and why?
- What’s something that excites you about our work?
- What are you grateful for that often goes unspoken?
- What aspect/impact/goal of our work should we celebrate?
- What gift have you received from someone else in this group?
- What’s something that we should celebrate or feel good about related to X?
- Share a recent success, big or small, related to X.
- What’s a professional strength of yours?
- Describe a time when you felt most successful/fulfilled at this organization?
This important category of question is related to how group members work together. These questions enable members to determine for themselves how they want to interact, and what would be in the best interests of their joint endeavor.
- Please share one value that you think should guide us in this group/endeavor? What value would you like to suggest we bring to this work today.*
- What do you need from this group to get the most from this meeting?
- What norms or agreements would you suggest we make?
- What’s something you appreciate (and/or something that you find challenging) about working here—on this team, in this division, at this organization, etc.? *
- What’s something that we’ve been doing well?
- What’s something that we could get better at?
- What level of risk (or level of commitment, openness, vulnerability, etc) are you willing to take today?
- If you could change one thing about how we are working together, what might that be?
- What is one thing that everyone here could do today that would ensure our success?
- If you could change one thing about how we are working, what would it by, and why?
- What is one thing you would like to get more of or receive from this team?
- What’s something that isn’t working well here, even though to some it may be a sacred cow?
- What’s one thing you do for yourself to manage the stress of this work?
- What permission or latitude do you need to give yourself today to enable you to show up as you would like?
- What’s something you think we should all keep in mind as we move forward?
- What advice, if any, do you have for me, the meeting facilitator?
- What is something you can bring/offer to our endeavor, a gift or skill or experience you have?
- What is one thing you want to practice today that will move you out of your comfort zone and increase your own, and our group’s, learning?
- What’s one way you enjoy contributing to this group?
- Consider a group you’ve been a part of that worked really well. What’s one reason why?
- If you personally were to underperform on this team, what would be the most likely reason?
- What do you most value in people who are in a group like this with you?
- What’s one thing we should do differently next time we meet?
- What’s one thing you might do differently next time we meet?
- What is one stereotype you have heard about people in our industry?
- What three things do you do most in a typical day on your job? Please be specific.
- Who do you respect and trust at work, and why?
- What was the best thing about last week?
- What are you most looking forward to (or concerned about) regarding the upcoming week, project, assignment?
- Please share one of the following: an insight, an appreciation, a commitment, or a hope.*
- What are you taking with you as a result of this meeting, and/or what are you leaving behind?*
- One thing that’s surprised, encouraged, or inspired you about this group’s work?*
- Please share one word that captures how you are feeling/what you are thinking as we close for today.
- When you go home and someone asks you about our time together, what’s one word that you might choose to describe it?
- What’s something new, unexpected, or affecting that you have learned about someone here today (during this exercise, from our work, in the last few minutes).
- What’s one thing that you appreciate about this group?
- What is being confirmed (or challenged) by our time together?
- What is one thing you are going to commit to do as a result of today?
- How has this meeting affected you?