What is your ultimate goal sparing half an hour to an employee every week, having a one on one meeting? When you ask why a few times, where do you end up as their manager (or as the company)?
One on one meetings can be very motivating for the employee. Even just having a casual conversation can be a source of self-esteem or make the employee feel they are valued and are being listened to.
It is of course also a good opportunity to see the work enviornment from the employees point of view:
I believe so.
Asking questions based on assumptions may put pressure on the employee, or may let them think they are falling behind or their manager is unhappy with their performance. (Of course, if that is the case, the best thing would be to share the situation openly.)
As an example consider the following question: “What do you think of doing Individual Objectives and Key Results for this quarter?”.
The employee may wonder what makes the engineer think they have OKR s.
The solution I believe is asking questions in a supportive manner..
Another good practice would be to make a direct suggestion to the employee.
A manager should have a better vision of the company, where the company is headed. Instead of just asking what the employee is up to, making a suggestion to the employee, something in the lines of “So we are planning on supporting Mongo Database” or “There are plans ahead to make use of Kubernetes..”, ”..would you be interested in taking part when it is time? We will need people familiar with this technology.” would give the hint and the motivation to the employee.