To be an effective manager, you should constantly be thinking about how your employees can improve and what you can do to help them improve.
Those steps will vary on a case-by-case basis, but luckily, there are a few questions that every supervisor can use. Your employees will love getting asked these four questions—read on to discover why.
1. “What’s one unpleasant but necessary task you do regularly?”
This question is a great one for a couple reasons. First, it exposes your employees’ pain points and allows you to find commonalities (if they exist). For example, maybe three of your 10 direct reports say they hate logging their progress in the project management software your team uses. That tells you it’s time to research different options.
Second, you’ll discover the inefficiencies within your department. You want your employees to have frictionless work days—or as close to frictionless as possible. “Unpleasant but necessary” chores add friction, consequently reducing productivity and engagement.
Third, and most importantly, this question shows your employees that you’re invested in their job satisfaction. Even if you don’t find a solution, they’ll feel respected and appreciated simply because you asked.
2. “What’s one project, vertical, skill, or aspect of our business you’d like to dive into more fully?”
One of the primary reasons that people leave their jobs is lack of challenge or stimulation. You can prevent this feeling of stasis by giving your team members opportunities to develop both themselves and at the company.
You can also use your team members’ answers to help them explore different areas within your company or take on new projects they’re enthusiastic about.
3. “Is there anything I can do as your manager to be more supportive?”
It’s impossible for you to objectively gauge your management performance, and unfortunately, your traditional feedback probably doesn’t include an analysis of how supportive you are.
But being empathetic, consistent, and helpful are hugely important qualities in a manager. Give your direct reports the chance to share how you could improve. You’ll probably get some interesting and useful findings, such as “I’d like if you were more vocal about my good ideas in meetings,” or “It would be great if we had more avenues of communication.”
When you receive a similar answer from more than one employee, that’s a clear sign that something in your management style is missing. In that case, you might want to consider making a universal change, rather than an employee-specific change.
4. “When you come to work every morning, what’s your mood and energy level? What about at noon? When you leave work?”
Every one that reports to you probably has a unique working pattern; for example, maybe one of your employees is cheery and high-energy when he first arrives at his desk, but feels drained by 5 PM, while another is withdrawn and easily annoyed at the beginning of the day, but gets in the swing of things by mid-morning.
When you know each employee’s pattern, you can tailor their requests accordingly—which makes the whole office more productive. The woman who takes a while to wake up shouldn’t get any emails from you before 9:30 AM; the man who’s most capable in the morning shouldn’t open a last-minute request from you after 4 PM. Your employees will really appreciate that you’re taking the time and energy to adapt to their needs.
About the Author
Aja Frost is a freelance writer who covers career, lifestyle, current events, and social justice. Say hi to her on Twitter.
Tags: employee questions, motivate employees