Ask your team members these questions to build a more engaged, cohesive and passionate team all pulling together in the same direction towards a common goal. When you practice the art of asking questions, you’ll break the habit of prescribing solutions that so many leaders fall into.
How are you feeling? What’s the climate/morale like right now?
Asking a team member how they feel is critical to employee engagement, motivation and productivity. One of the most important indicators of employee engagement is the belief that, ‘my manager cares about me’. Checking-in on how your individual team members are doing demonstrates that you care about them, and about the morale of the team. This question also gives you a pulse check on your team’s climate and can give you an indication as to whether there are areas that require your attention from a team culture perspective.
What’s one thing we can do to improve the service/product we provide?
This question relates to the Southwest Airline example in the Shared Leadership video. Southwest Airlines creates a culture of accoutability by engaging employees in a dialogue around Southwest Airline’s vision. You can do the same by finding opportunities to ask for ideas to improve the team’s ability to achieve the organization’s vision. Asking the question demonstrates that ‘we are all in this together’ and your team members’ ideas are just as valuable as the leadership team’s ideas.
If you were the manager of our team, what would you do differently?
This question needs to be asked with an open and genuine tone so that your team knows that you are truly interested in identifying new and improved ways of working together and achieving the goals of the team and your organization. Asking this question allows you to step into the ‘vulnerable’ mode and open yourself up to feedback. This question, when posed the right way, will strengthen relationships, trust and engagement and will build accountability. And importantly, this question demonstrates that you are open to feedback. Be sure though that you do not ask this question as a ‘check the box’ activity, ask this question from a place of positive intent to truly listen to feedback and apply it if applicable. Use this question to create a two-way dialogue.
What were our/your wins this month/week (big or small)?
It is so important to focus on team strengths and to focus on successes both big and small. Get in the habit of regularly asking this question so that the team’s focus shifts to their collective strengths as opposed to individual areas of weakness.
What’s going well in your role?
Be sure to step out of the ‘status update’ cycle of working with a heads-down focus on tasks at hand. Be sure to check-in on how your team members are doing in their roles to find out what is going well with them, and then lead into the next question. Asking these types of questions demonstrate that you are invested in their well-being and are theire to support them.
What challenges are you facing? Where are you stuck?
This questions not only gives you an understanding of the types of challenges your team members are facing, and helps you to determine the type of support and resources they may need, but it also provides an opportunity to enter into a coaching conversation to help your team members to get ‘unstuck’ and overcome challenges. This question also demonstrates your openness to hearing about challenges they are facing, which builds a tremendous amount of trust.
Are there any projects you’d really like to work on if you were given the opportunity?
Trust and engagement are strengthened when leaders demonstrate that they are invested in supporting career development and skill building. This question demonstrates that and provides the opportunity for you to understand your team members interests and passions so that they can be engaged in meaningful ways.
What were some great contributions made by other team members?
As a leader you can’t be everywhere all the time and know about all the great things your team members are doing (especially the little things that can have a great impact). Asking this question not only demonstrates that you care, but it lets your team members know that everyone’s contribution is valuable and that it is essential to recognize one another.
Now go ahead, start by choosing at least one of these questions to ask at your next team meeting or individual check-in with a team member. When you start asking more questions and entering into a genuine dialogue, you’ll be amazed by the results!
Until next time!