How to Win in Business

Google exec shares 3 unusual questions he likes to ask employees

If you looked at the co-worker sitting closest to you, would you be able to say what his or her favorite food or hobby is? The answer may very well be "No," depending on your office environment and how long you've been with a company.

Getting to know your colleagues on a more personal level can be a long process that takes months, if not years. But having meaningful work relationships pay off. Employees who have friends at work are happier and work harder at work, a national Gallup poll found.

To fast-track the process of building meaningful work relationships, Peter Roper, Google's head of mobile brand strategy, asks his employees fun ice-breaker questions.

Some of his favorite are these three: "What's on your bucket list?" "What's the craziest thing you've done?" and "What's your favorite color?"

These unusual questions, which Roper occasionally asks at team meetings, get people out of their comfort zones and encourage them to share personal interests. That often sparks more meaningful connections.

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In fact, the actual answers to the questions don't matter as much as the conversations they inspire, according to Roper, who spoke with CNBC at the Millennial 20/20 conference.

"It provides you a unique opportunity to understand what someone's passionate about," the Google executive says. "It really helps everyone get to know each other better."

Mary Stevens/CNBC

Besides making office meetings, which can be notoriously boring, more fun, the ice-breaker questions leave people feeling a bit happier, Roper says.

"Our most productive people and productive employees are those that are happy," he says, "happy and challenged and feel that the work matters."

Check out how Jeff Bezos runs meetings at Amazon.