Category Archives: Know Your Employees

Connectivity: How to Really Know Your Employees

Your best employees will not stick around if they feel undervalued, ignored, or invisible. Successful managers get to know their employees—their skills and talents, their weak spots, their career plans, and the kind of working relationship that works best for them.

You can get more fully connected with your employees by asking them great questions and really listening to what they have to say. This process of discovery will help you learn about strengths, goals, and needs from your employees’ perspective.

Tips:

  • Know that people can react strangely to being questioned (especially if they’ve never had a manager who bothered to ask before). Show that you are genuinely interested in them as people and curious to find out what’s on their minds.
  • Select a few questions to ask shortly after a new person has been brought on board, in preparation for a new performance year, during mid-year performance discussions, or at any other time during the year as needed.
  • When you ask these questions, be prepared to listen to what your employees have to say, resisting the impulse to defend, justify, explain, or argue—even if what they say makes you wince.
  • Don’t ask all these questions in one sitting; it will exhaust you both!

14 Pretty Great Questions:

Most of these questions were taken from my favorite management book, First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. I’ve added a few of my own.

  1. What did you enjoy most about your previous work experience? What brought you here? (If an existing employee, what keeps you here?)
  2. What do you think your strengths are?
  3. What do you think your development needs are?
  4. What are your goals for your current role?
  5. How often would you like to meet with me to discuss your progress?
  6. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
  7. Do you have any personal goals or commitments you would like to tell me about?
  8. What is the most positive feedback you ever received? What made it so good?
  9. Have you had any really productive working relationships with previous bosses, co-workers, or mentors? Why do you think these relationships worked so well for you?
  10. What are your future career goals? Are there any new skills you want to learn?
  11. Are there any specific challenges or stretch assignments you want to take on? How can I help?
  12. Is there anything that would make your work more interesting?
  13. What would make things better for you here?
  14. Is there anything else you want to talk about that might help us work well together?

Which of these questions can you see yourself asking? What questions might you add to the list?

Don’t wait to get more plugged in. Start asking your employees these questions. Their answers may surprise you. They may challenge you. They also may inspire you.

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So far, almost all of my posts have been about how you can meet the needs of your employees. Now it’s your turn. My next post will be all about you. What do you need so that you can meet the needs of your group, the tasks, and the individual? Stay tuned.

Until next time.