Deeper Questions Leaders Need to Ask Employees – Part Two

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Excerpted from 78 Important Questions Every Leader Should Ask and Answer by Chris Clarke-Epstein with the permission of the publisher

Today’s Post is Part Two – click “HERE” for Part One – with questions 1-5.

Note from Bob – if you only have 60 seconds to read this post – then don’t miss these 5 Questions you will want to begin asking your employees:

6. What’s a potential benefit we could offer that would be helpful to you?

7. What is it like to work on a team in our organization?

8. What makes you proud of working as a part of our organization?

9. What’s something you’ve learned in the past week?

10.What brings you joy in your work?

6.  What’s a potential benefit we could offer that would be helpful to you?

As you work to provide benefits for your employees while being a good steward of your organization’s resources, you need specific information about the people in your organization. Benefit pro-grains grains that don’t meet the varied needs of your employees are a waste and reflect poor leadership. Asking this question won’t make these decisions easy, but it will make you a better decision-maker.

7.  What is it like to work on a “Team” in our organization?

If anyone is taking a vote on the most misused business word, let me know. I want to place a vote. The word team is often used to describe any group of people working on a task. Team, however, actually means something very specific. A team is a collection of people with a shared, meaningful purpose and an emotional connection who work together toward a common goal. The answers to this question will be greatly dependent on the team’s current situation. After listening to a litany of problems or a joyful description of successes, you’ll need to probe further. Your intent in asking this question is to uncover the totality of a team’s experience in your organization. If people mention a lack of support, scarcity of resources, insufficient recognition, or endless meetings that seem to be a waste of time, pay attention.

Teams don’t just happen. You can’t expect that by putting a group of smart people into a room together and calling them a team, they’ll become one. Teams need to be nurtured, and that’s the job of a leader.

8.  What makes you proud of working as a part of our organization?

The company knew they had to do something. Customer satisfaction ratings were dropping, employee turnover was rising, and nobody wanted to talk about morale. Consultants were hired, and a final decision was reached. “We’ll create a video that tells everyone why they should be happy that they work here,” they decided. This would do it; things would change now.

Employees were ushered into the meeting room. The lights dimmed and the video began. The music was powerful and the videography impressive. The leaders sitting in the front of the room led the applause.  Employees tiled out of the room.  That’s when I heard one of the participants say, “I can’t believe they’re trying to get us to put our hats back on with that crap!”  Curious, I followed him out of the building and asked, “What hat?” “Oh,” he replied offhandedly, “When I first started, fifteen years ago, we all had hats with the company’s name and logo. I was like most guys; we wore them all the time. We wanted everyone to know where we worked. We were proud to work here. I haven’t worn my hat for a long time.”

Many organizations, in an attempt to improve morale, spend dollars, time, and energy externally and forget that morale is an inside job. Please don’t ask consultants to help you improve morale in your organization. Start by asking this question yourself of the people on your team, really listen to the answers, and go to work.

9.  What’s something you’ve learned in the past week?

Here’s a thought. School’s never out for the professional. I was at a speaker showcase several years ago when I heard a presenter  by the name of Bob Prichard say, “When you’re not learning-something someone somewhere else is. When you meet, guess who has the advantage.” I’ve carried that concept with me every day since.

As a leader, you need to ask yourself if you could honestly say that your team is smarter today than they were a year ago. If they are, do you know how they got that way? Start asking questions about learning. Finding out how your people learn can be a fascinating exercise. You’ll find those who learn by doing, some who learn by listening, and others who need to see a picture (either real or imagined) before something sinks in.

It appears as though there could be a lot for you to learn. Why bother? Because of the competition. You can bet they’re learning, and if they are and you aren’t, the future starts looking dim. So, start asking a few questions. Who knows, you might learn something!

10.  What brings you joy in your work?

Remember these thoughts as you listen to the answers to this question.  Do people find joy in their work at your organization? What are the implications for you if they don’t?  You can help people find joy in their work by showing them how what they do matters.  Many people in today’s workplace have no idea how the things they do on a daily basis affect the success or failure of their organization.

A receptionist needs to understand that they way he answers a phone could make or break the biggest deal your organization may ever have.  A filing clerk needs to know that her daily efforts make it possible for the customer serve team to respond quickly to a customer request. A pipe fitter deserves to look at the architect’s drawing and know that, because of her efforts, the building she’s working on will shelter the children at a daycare center.

It is your job to help all team members understand the important of their work.  Do that and watch the joy spread.

Chris Clark-Epstein 2Chris Clarke-Epstein, Certified Speaking Professional is a change expert who has spent the last 28 years challenging diverse groups including senior leadership teams, middle management supervisors, and health care professionals to apply new knowledge.  Author of and contributor to more than 15 books, Chris teaches and writes in critical areas such as understanding the dynamics of change, delivering effective feedback, dealing with conflict, and building high performance teams.  You can connect with Chris @ Change101.com

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