What questions do you ask your team? Why do you ask them?The best managers and leaders are intentional about how they communicate with their employees. They consider what they ask, why they ask it and they engage in the practice of Q
At 15Five, we believe that listening to employees and understanding them is far more valuable than telling them what to do. That’s why we created software for companies to efficiently ask employees quantitative questions, as well as open-ended ones like the ones you’ll read below.
Questions help managers build strong relationships with employees and read the pulse of their team on a regular basis. That way, when they do have to step in and offer support or mentorship, employees feels safe to speak candidly, and managers can provide feedback tailored specifically to the needs of each employee. There is a sweet spot on the spectrum between micromanagement and absence. Questions allow managers to address frustrations while employees feel just enough challenge to enjoy their roles.
I recommend asking your team this question:
How can we design your role to create what’s next in your career or your life?
I ask this because employees have a fundamental human desire to continue to grow and evolve personally and professionally. When managers support this growth, employees become more engaged in their work and feel more invested in the company.
I asked the following thought leaders and entrepreneurs to share the top questions they ask their teams and why. Their answers and more are included in The Great eBook of Employee Questions, which contains 70 valuable questions to ask employees and explanations on why you should ask them.
“It gives people a safe space to report on what needs a fix or who needs help. Asking ‘what’s working and what’s not’ always gives lopsided answers. I learned this from Charlie Kim, CEO of Next Jump.”
Simon Sinek, founder and author of Start With Why
“This question gives them an owner’s perspective. Managers/leaders get their feedback on how we could be doing a better job as a company and how I could be doing a better job as CEO. It’s easier to answer than ‘How could I be doing a better job’ because that doesn’t feel as personal.”
Dave Kashen, CEO of Worklife
“It gets employees present to what is right now, how they feel, what’s important, and what they want to make happen. It also helps us troubleshoot if they’re not excited about something and possibly figure out a better way (or ditch if it’s perpetual).”
Anese Cavanaugh, creator of the IEP Method
“I want to find what’s stopping progress and do everything in my power to eliminate those roadblocks.”
Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz
“I want to find out if they feel overwhelmed. ‘Busy’ is an OK word, but as soon as they indicate that they are overwhelmed, it throws up a red flag. Anxiety equals a loss of focus and generally really [bad] work, so we want to make sure that they are confident in their daily tasks.”
Renee Warren, founder of Onboardly
“The boss’s job is to help and support their employees so they can do what they’re supposed to do.”
Ryan Holiday, author and media strategist
“I ask this question at the beginning of my leadership meetings, and it’s always incredibly revealing. It tells you way more than if someone is having fun — it reveals how stressed they are, how well we’re doing to create an environment in which people are loving their work, and sends the signal, ‘Yes, it’s OK to have fun!'”
Shane Metcalf, VP of Customer Success at 15Five
“One, my job as a leader is to serve my team. Understanding their needs and identifying ways to meet them allows my team to operate at an optimized level. Two, mining for needs helps to establish accountability on the team and a sense of who owns what. It also opens up the conversation for what needs the team has of each other.”
Darren Virassammy, co-founder of 34 Strong
“I ask the question to promote collaboration, democracy and goodwill.”
Shawn Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Switch & Shift
Good questions have the power to spark innovation. They avoid fire drills and help employees show up as their best selves. Go ahead and begin the practice of asking your team thought-provoking questions on a regular basis. They can help you manage your workplace culture, keep people motivated, and ensure happy and loyal teams across your organization.