Rather than dominating the conversation, ask questions to draw out the best performance from your employees. By Priya Prakasan
Often leaders are quick to offer solutions, advice, and direction as to how things should be done. After all they have the knowledge and experience needed to get the task done. However, an important part of a leader’s role is to help employees grow and develop, as well as empower them so that they find their own solutions and get the job done. One way to do this is by asking questions that increase engagement and help you gauge the direction they’re headed in. We suggest you start with a few of these questions.
1. How can I help you?
Your team looks to you for knowledge, direction, guidance, and support. But they might not always say what’s on their mind or might be reticent to approach you with their challenges. By taking the first step and asking them this question, you’re leaving the door open for them to share their problems and issues. You get to understand what’s on their mind and an opportunity to help them with any challenges their facing. This helps them understand that you have a wealth of knowledge (through experience) that they can draw upon in their time of need. By asking this you are not only helping your employees but also showing that you care about them.
2. What motivates and excites you about your job?
This question helps you understand what drives employees and makes them choose to stay in your organisation. You get to know about the kind of work, tasks, assignments, projects, etc that energise and challenge your employees, and keep them engaged. This information will help you formulate a better strategy for employee productivity, by working out future opportunities that play to their strengths, so as to increase employee engagement as well as their performance. After all the way employees feel about their jobs greatly determines their productivity as well as commitment to the company.
3. Where have you reached on your career roadmap?
Employee growth is a key concern for any leader. Asking this question not only helps you better understand your employees’ goals, it also gives you an opportunity to closely interact with them. This is one way to ask how you can help them reach their goals. This interaction shows you’re invested in their personal and professional development. It gives employees a sense that their leader truly cares about their growth and is interested in helping them to the next level of their career. Interact with your team periodically to assist with their goal setting. Try to practice this every quarter rather than waiting for the annual evaluations.
4. What is holding the team back?
This one addresses team productivity and efficiency. As a leader your focus is on a million different things and you might have skimmed past an issue that is actually a pain point for the team. So make it a practice to regularly ask about the obstacles that are preventing the team from delivering a stellar performance. Understand these barriers and take on the responsibility of removing them so as to ensure your team performs well.
5. What advice do you have for me to be a better leader?
Being vulnerable in front of your employees and asking them for guidance or advice on what you can do better opens the door for constructive feedback. Though it might seem like a difficult question to ask, you might be surprised at some of the useful feedback that comes your way. While you might have dismissed some behaviour as insignificant, they could have had a lasting impact on employees. By opening yourself like this you’re showing that you can leave your ego at the door and are interested in growing into a better leader for them. It also shows that you value their opinion.