Regular, personal check-ins with your team members are critical to effective management and leadership. They provide a forum for open communication, personal development, and alignment. And when conducted with intent and structure, these meetings can unlock insights, foster engagement, and lead to higher productivity.
But, you must go beyond the routine “How’s it going?” to gain a true understanding of your team’s professional well-being and progress.
Here are six key questions you should be asking the members of your team regularly:
1. “What are the obstacles currently hindering your performance?”
Asking about obstacles allows you to understand the challenges your team members face. According to a Gallup study, employees whose managers help them set work priorities and goals are more engaged (right now, only 32% of employees in the U.S. fall into the “engaged at work” category). When you understand the hurdles, you can provide the appropriate resources or support to overcome them.
This is a practical application of the Servant Leadership model, which suggests that effective leaders prioritize the needs of their team to improve performance and employee satisfaction.
2. “In what areas would you like to grow professionally?”
This question involves inspiring and motivating your team members to exceed their own expectations.
By understanding your team member’s career aspirations, you can tailor development opportunities to align with individual growth paths. This boosts morale and contributes to the company’s talent pipeline.
3. “How can I better support you?”
Leadership should be adaptive to each team member’s individual needs. By asking this question, you allow your team members to express what they need from you to be successful.
In return, you demonstrate a commitment to your team’s success and a willingness to adapt your style to provide necessary support.
4. “What successes have you had since our last meeting?”
Encouraging your team members to share their successes is a strategy rooted in Positive Organizational Scholarship, which focuses on leveraging what goes well in organizations. Recognizing accomplishments is essential for morale and motivation.
It is no secret that employees who feel valued are more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and motivation.
5. “What insights do you have about our team and organizational processes?”
This question taps into the collective intelligence of the team, can lead to process improvements, and involves team members in decision-making.
Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. By soliciting insights, you can make more informed decisions, and your team will be more invested in the outcomes.
6. “How do you prefer to receive feedback and recognition for your work?”
Personalizing feedback and recognition to suit a team member’s preferences can significantly enhance effectiveness. Feedback and recognition should always tie back to your company’s core values and mission – this helps to remind your team members that their work has a purpose and is a part of the company’s overall strategy.
While asking these six questions will help you gain valuable insights, address challenges, and develop a more engaged and productive team it is only the start. Perhaps Carew’s most memorable training model, LAER: The Bonding Process® consists of Listening, Acknowledging, Exploring, and Responding – and this is what you must do after you ask your question:
- Listening is an indication of interest and demonstrates non-verbal encouragement.
- Acknowledging shows that you care about what your team members are telling you.
- Exploring allows you to gather more information, clarify responses, verify understanding, and summarize all the information you received.
- Responding is your chance to recommend a solution, describe an action plan, give insights, or agree on a next step.
LAER: The Bonding Process® shows genuine effort as a leader to deeply comprehend the individual needs, values, motivations, and perspectives of your team members and builds a foundation of trust and understanding that is essential for a cohesive team dynamic.
These six questions aim to improve the professional well-being and progress of each team member, covering aspects such as their challenges, areas for growth, and feedback preferences. By incorporating these questions into regular one-on-one meetings and coupling them with LAER: The Bonding Process®, you can improve communication, create a supportive and motivating environment and drive engagement and productivity within your teams.