Being a manager means that there is a lot of work on your plate. Juggling multiple teams and being responsible for a sizable number of people can be a daunting task. It becomes more daunting when you realise that you are either directly or indirectly responsible for most of them, which means that each employee demands individual attention and understanding on your part.
According to Forbes, 89% of HR leaders state employee feedback and attention as the source of their success. This means that you must engage with your employees. The best way to do this is through being genuinely interested in their work and asking questions. But what kind of questions to ask? When to ask them? What questions should we avoid? Read on to learn more.
Questions to understand your employees joining a team
- What is your working style?- How do your employees like to work. Do they like to work independently or do they prefer to be a part of a team? Make sure you know these preferences before you allocate new employees into teams and in the current scenario, remote work or in office work. The environment that suits them the best is a good way to make them feel more welcome in the company and also let them be at the top of their game and performance.
- How would you prefer to communicate? - Whether the employees are working in an office or remote, they will have a preferred communication style. Some of the employees might be more inclined towards a phone call, some might be more inclined to have a quick zoom meet. Some might prefer detailed mails and long meetings that they find boring and time consuming. Some might prefer chat as a way of communicating. All generations prefer chatting to emails. According to Facebook, 65% of GenX and 63% of Baby Boomers prefer chatting to emails. Apps like Butter help in such situations. If you are looking for a collaboration tool that also lets you communicate with your team in a professional environment, Butter’s chat feature is the perfect fit for you. For more on business communication check this.
- How do you learn new skills? - Most jobs have specific skills that a new employee needs to be well versed in. Talk to them and find out the best and quickest way for them to learn. Many people learn quicker on the job itself. Some would prefer to attend a seminar or maybe a few brief training sessions. Asking before implementing helps save a big trial and error process that costs time and effort.
- Best management style for you?- Ask them if micromanaging works for them or any kind of feedback mechanism that is non intrusive can be used. Set up a weekly or daily brief feedback session. Understand and note if they prefer being left alone on their own or need guidance. Some employees work better in silence, some prefer music.
Questions to know your employees on a personal level
Work will always be there but to get work done you need to know the employees personally too.
- How do they prevent burnout?- Ask them how they keep themselves motivated. It gives you a look into their working style and how they will work in a team.
- Which of the company values aligns with their personal values- If employees feel that their values align with company values, they are most likely to be with the company for the long term.
- How do they like to unwind?- Common topics for light conversations can help create a bond. A mutual liking for football may actually be a good ice breaker to make them feel less intimidated by you.
- What part of the job do they dislike?- This feedback is exclusively for you. It helps you identify what you are doing wrong or what your subordinates think about the direction the company is going in.
Questions to understand your existing team members
- Async or sync communication?-Compromise with communication. If an employee likes to work late nights and the other likes to work in the day, create a communication mechanism for them. Butter’s “Ask status” feature helps this way. You can set task deadlines accordingly. An application can be as effective as the people using it. Knowing your employees help set deadlines they can meet.
- What drives them to work there?- Identify key motivators & opportunities. Incentivize those and take note of what the employees like and dislike. Improving on that helps the company grow in the direction it should.
- What can we do to support you and your work?- Their skills make them an asset, so find out what you can offer them so that they can properly utilise or even grow their skills. The better they get at their work the better the outcomes will be and the more will be the productivity.
- What are their major goals or targets this month?- This makes them feel involved and you also find out what to expect or what to look for in their work. You can find out what to look for in their work at the end of the month or week.
Feedback that helps you help them
- Are my efforts good enough to support you? -If all our efforts are futile then there is no point in continuing them. Improvise and adapt to their needs, what you are providing might not be the catalyst they need. Putting our efforts in the right place works wonders.
- How can I improve? Where can I improve?- According to Gallup, 50% of employees quit because of their bosses, not the company. This means managers need to step up and put the right efforts where they should. Just knowing the above yes and no is not enough. You need to know what lacks and what can be done. A safe space helps.
Questions for one on one performance reviews
There is always the need to get to know your employees better while still respecting their personal spaces.
- Ask them what their latest and biggest achievement is- Celebrate that. Set goals that are higher than the one they have achieved. It helps them improve and always strive to be better.
- Ask them what they think needs to be improved on- Before giving your inputs, ask them to know what they think of their performance. It helps understand how self aware they are and how much they understand themselves.
- Again ask them what you can do from your end- This is important at every step, let them know you are willing to help if they need help. This is a big source of reinforcement for the employees.
- Ask them how they feel their growth is- An understanding of their growth from their perspective helps in seeing which achievements they deem as important.
- Ask them what they feel is missing- Feedback from them is also important for the company to grow and improve on areas the employees feel can be improved. There is always scope of improvement and the employees must have a say in it.
- Ask them if they like working with this team- Team productivity and management helps in determining the success. If they like working with the team their results should be visible. If they do not feel comfortable working with the team , find out the reason why and try your best to solve it.
Keeping a tab of employee expectations, their behaviours and their preferences helps a manager work better with them. It helps set goals and create a feedback loop where each person benefits from each other’s work and helps in achieving milestones.