Companies that want to achieve continuous growth need to create a culture of continuous feedback.
The whole team should be working together to help make the company better.
As smart as most leaders are, if they’re the only ones making decisions, the company won’t be nearly as successful as ones that actively encourage employees to submit feedback.
Employees that are on the front-lines have a much better perspective of what should be improved and why, so it’s vital that you create an environment for them to speak their mind.
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The way to do this is by removing any fear that exists in your company culture. You can improve employee performance if you’re having these frequent discussions.The most valuable thing you can do as a manager is to remove any fear that your employees have of speaking up.
Let them know that they can be as open and honest as they want without worry of being punished.
In a study done by researchers from Cornell and Harvard about why employees don’t speak up, they found that employees are scared of the repercussions.
In our interviews, the perceived risks of speaking up felt very personal and immediate to employees, whereas the possible future benefit to the organization from sharing their ideas was uncertain. So people often instinctively played it safe by keeping quiet. Their frequent conclusion seemed to be, “When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.”
Traditionally, companies use the (dreaded) annual employee survey to collect feedback, but regularly asking questions to your employees will make your company much more agile.
Managers need to be constantly asking employees questions on how they can improve.
Involving employees in these discussions will also make them more engaged, because they’ll feel more involved in the decision-making process.
There’s nothing more demotivating than feeling like your opinion doesn’t count.
But for managers, asking employees questions frequently is easier said than done; there is an art and science to it. Body language, tone of voice, even the words you use can all affect the responses you get.
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How To Ask Questions Properly
Before going through which questions you should be asking your team, let’s talk about how to ask these questions.
Here are a few tips you can use to make sure you’re getting the most valuable information from employees.
1. Listen Carefully
This is an important tip.
When an employee is giving you feedback, you’ll naturally have the urge to respond and defend yourself. Learning how to hold back is one of the most valuable lessons to collecting good feedback.
Even if there is a pause in the conversation, what will often happen is if you don’t respond, the employee will continue to talk and share insights they might not have otherwise shared.
2. Follow Up Frequently
Don’t be afraid to ask the same questions month after month. Sometimes, employees aren’t ready to share, or maybe they don’t have anything to say yet.
But as your employees are constantly reminded of these questions, they start to think about these things more and more in their day-to-day.
3. Mean What You Say
Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking them, ask them because you’re genuinely interested in getting better.
Come with a mindset of improvement, it will make the way you hear the responses much different.
4. Ask Gently
Always consider the tone of your questioning. Questions should be about inquiring rather than advocating.
For example, saying “Here’s how I think the new homepage should look, what do you think?” is advocating. This will skew responses, so you don’t want to do this.
Instead, say something like “what do you guys think the new homepage should look like?”
Questions To Ask Your Employees
Here are 7 questions that you should ask your team each month:
1. What’s one thing you did this month that you’re proud of?
We often forget to take time to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, but by asking employees this question once a month, you’ll help build that sense of pride.
Employees need to feel like they’re making progress, that helps them stay engaged.
This questions is good for two reasons:
- Employees get to show off their work
- You get to see what employees consider important
Allowing employees to celebrate the “small wins” will make them more motivated going forward.
2. If you were the CEO, what’s one thing you would do differently?
Managers want their employees to feel and act like owners of the company, and this question is a great way to give them that sense of ownership.
You’re also likely to get some amazing ideas from employees, because it gives them the opportunity to imagine if they were in control.
Asking this question frequently reminds employees that you value their opinions.
3. How can I be a better leader?
If you’re a good leader, then you’re constantly looking to grow and improve.
It’s especially important with this question to remind employees that they can feel free to say whatever they want.
As a manager, be willing to accept whatever feedback comes from your employees.
A manager that is constantly looking to be a better leader for their employees will make employees happier.
4. What’s your biggest challenge right now?
Everyone faces challenges at work.
Managers need to act like coaches and be there to guide their employees through whatever they’re going through.
Consistently asking this question will help employees grow and become better at what they do.
Showing employees that you’re there to help them with their challenges will make them feel more comfortable.
5. What can we do to make you more successful?
Personal growth is by far the biggest driver of employee engagement.
Asking employees every month how you can make them better is a great way to make sure employees are always improving and becoming more productive.
Every good manager knows it’s the people under them that are responsible for the company’s success, by shifting the focus to how the company can make employees more successful, the team will be more productive.
Simply telling employees that you’re there for them is often enough to get them to be more motivated.
6. What’s one thing we should do to improve our product/service?
Like I mentioned earlier, your best source of innovation will be from front-line employees.
Make sure that you are frequently asking them how the company can be better. It’s important to ask this question over and over again because the market changes so often.
Including employees in the conversation makes them feel more connected to the company and gets them more motivated.
7. Are there any projects you’d really like to work on if you were given the opportunity?
For employees to be truly motivated at work, they need to be working on projects they they’re passionate about.
Employees often change roles in companies as they continue to discover themselves. Help them discover their passions by asking this question frequently.
Letting employees explore their true passions will get them excited about coming to work each day.
Bonus: Questions You Should Never Ask Employees
These are questions that unfortunately many managers still ask, but are doing more damage than anything else.
1. Whose fault is this?
The blame game helps no one. This is a silly question that will only demoralize your team.
Instead, focus on how to improve for next time.
Smart leaders take all the blame when something goes wrong because they know that ultimately the buck stops with them.
2. Didn’t we try that already?
Don’t be a quitter.
It’s possible that something might not have worked when you first tried it for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore the idea.
Maybe some external factor has changed, or maybe you’ve gotten better at some area that would make this time successful.
Instead of asking this question, ask something like “what could we do differently this time?”
What Questions Do You Like To Ask Employees?
Any tips you can share with us? What are some of the best questions that you use with employees? Let us know in the comments below!