15 Important Questions to Ask your Manager (Plus Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An effective manager communicates openly with their employees, which allows for better circulation of information and overall a more efficient workplace. Having thoughtful questions to pose to your manager gives you the chance to build your relationship with them and helps you stay knowledgeable about your position. When you're knowledgeable about the organisation and the industry, you become more valuable as an employee, and your manager may have useful insight into your career or the industry. In this article, we discuss questions you could pose to your manager.

How to prepare questions to ask your manager

Being in a higher position in the same industry, your manager may have a broader perspective on your position. Asking the right questions can help you thrive in your position, whether you've been in the industry for years or you're just getting started. Here are a few tips to figure out what to ask your manager:

1. Try it yourself first

If you want to ask for assistance, try performing the task you need help with first. This can optimise your and your manager's time if you've context on the task with which you need help. If you're struggling to complete tasks within the workday, you can ask for help. Your manager may have more insight into your task and have some ideas on how you might approach it.

2. Prepare your questions

To gain the most helpful information, you may want to organise your thoughts and prepare your questions ahead of time. If your question is related to concerns about the work environment, have examples and data before you speak with your manager. This can help make your point clear.

3. Ask directly and politely

You want to be polite with your manager, but you also want to use your time efficiently. Estimate how long you think the meeting may be and approach your manager in their office. If they aren't available, send them a short email. Briefly outline what the meeting may be about.

Related: Common Responsibilities and Expectations of Managers

15 questions to ask your manager

Posing the right questions can help you increase your value as an employee. You may gain knowledge that's essential for career progression. Questions that relate to new hire expectations, setting goals and recreating your manager's path to success can help you figure out your own path to a fulfilling career.

1. What are your expectations of me as an employee in this position?

To best perform your work, you may want to clarify the expectations and goals that your manager has. Specific expectations clearly define your position and remove any ambiguity in your relationship with your manager. Effective managers are able to set performance goals that the employee can work towards that may bring the company the most value.

2. What would you say is the most ideal workflow?

Managers may have subjective takes on how to best achieve the company's goals. Some managers like to collaborate with their employees, while others prefer to let the employees figure out their own most efficient working method. Understanding how your manager prefers to conduct business and how you prefer to work can help both of you develop a more efficient workflow that maximises both of your potentials.

3. Do you have any book or media recommendations?

Many managers and those in high positions are well-read because reading helps them to improve their work. Ask them this question to gauge how they achieved their success, and if they would recommend any of their reading to you. Daily reading can help inspire new thoughts, improve your memory and reduce your stress, all of which can help you build a fulfilling career.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

4. What performance goals should I be setting?

Specifically asking your manager to outline your goals and expectations can help you make sure you're offering the most value to the organisation. Managers hold regular employee evaluations to adjust employee goals and track performance. To ensure that you're making positive progress before these meetings, ask your manager for informal meetings to track your progress.

5. Do you have any advice on how I can work towards my personal goals and objectives?

Your manager may be in a position that you're striving to hold in the future. You may enlist them as a mentor because they have the perspective on your potential career path that can help you work towards your goals. A mentor may make your path to success more direct and easier to define. There's also value in getting to know your manager's personal work ethic and goals as a way of building your professional relationship with them.

6. What are your personal career goals?

Managers typically have their own hopes and expectations for the future of their careers. Asking about what their goals are could give you some insight into your manager's priorities and how they plan to achieve their success. Understanding their goals can give you some direction on how to set your own priorities to achieve success.

Related: What Is the Role of a Manager? (Plus Other Management FAQs)

7. What career achievements are you most proud of?

Similar to the question about their goals, asking what your manager has already achieved can give you insight into how they achieved their success. This can give you inspiration for steps to take in your own career. The achievements your manager is most proud of shows your manager's strengths and how they utilised them.

8. If money were infinite for the company, how would you spend it?

This question can reveal what your manager prioritises the most within the company. Without money as a barrier, you can learn how your manager would influence the company and the industry in which they operate. Typically, this question highlights the extremes of the greatest need and greatest potential in the company. This can tell you about your manager's personal vision for the company and what they want to achieve.

9. What advice would you give me at this point in my career?

While you may already have hopes and expectations for your career, you may lack the perspective to know what the next steps might be. Your manager may offer that perspective as someone who has already moved through the career phase you're currently in. They may offer direction and actionable steps for you to take.

10. Who are your biggest inspirations?

Your manager's personal heroes can tell you a lot about their personality and what motivates them. This can also give you a list of leaders that you can also adopt as mentors. Learning about the people your manager looks up to can give you inspiration on how to shape your own career.

11. What is your personal definition of success?

Success is subjective, and it can be measured qualitatively or quantitatively. Simply asking them how to be successful might not be helpful if your definition of success is different from theirs. Understanding your manager's vision of success can help you understand what it is they strive for in their career.

12. What kind of training should I seek out?

Industries are constantly changing, and technology is constantly redefining what skills are necessary to perform a job. Stay ahead of the industry by asking your manager what they believe are valuable skills to increase your value in the workplace. This question may also reveal what your manager believes the industry may be like in the next few years.

13. What advice can you give me on work-life balance?

With the Internet, work-life balance can be difficult to achieve when you have access to work at all times. The more you advance into your career, the more conscious of this balance you may be. Your manager likely handles this question regularly and may have advice on the subject.

Related: How to Manage Time (With 23 Time Management Tips and Advice)

14. What's the best way I can offer feedback?

This question may help you understand how your manager prefers to be communicated with. Open communication is essential to good team building. The best way to understand your manager's preferences is to reach out and enquire after them.

15. What do you love most about your job? / What's your least favourite part of the job?

Though they're separate questions, they ultimately achieve the same perspective. These questions help you understand your manager's relationship with their work, and that may help you predict your relationship with the work in the same position. If you intend on reaching for a manager position, consider your personal feelings about the work and if you may find it fulfilling.

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