Those searching for how to improve employees’ performance often wonder if they are giving the right commands, or dolling orders in the best way. Often, though, the most effective way to improve the performance of your employees isn’t to give commands at all, but rather to ask the right questions and listen to draw the right action plan.
Ron Ashkenas, a former business consultant and a contributor at Forbes says that “asking questions effectively is a major underlying part of a manager’s job — which suggests that it might be worth giving this skill a little more focus.”
To help you meet the goal of giving this skill a little more focus, here are the top five questions you should be asking as a leader in order to improve your employees’ performance thus shine a positive spotlight to your company. As we have heard it before, the best advertisement is through word of mouth.
Do you have any ideas or suggestions that can make the company’s current process better?
Employees need to know that their opinions are valued. According to David Galic of Humanity.com:
“Getting regular feedback from your people is actually a win-win situation for everyone involved. They feel valued as an integral part of your team and you are probably going to end up with some innovative ideas.”
Employees who feel that their opinions are valued and that they are making a real difference at the company, their works are always going to outperform employees who feel unheard and undervalued. As a leader, you can ensure your employees always know their opinions are valued simply by asking them what their opinions are and thoughtfully listening to their answer. As an added bonus, the feedback you get will often times be incredibly valuable in its own right.
What can I do to help?
Great leaders don’t lead from a distance, they lead by example. Asking your employees what you can do to help them shows that you are truly interested in helping them succeed and are willing to work yourself to make that happen. When employees see this out of their boss, it’s a big motivator.
In addition to showing your employees that you are truly interested in helping them and the company succeed, asking your employees what you can do to help also makes your own job easier. Far too often, managers don’t look before they leap. While decisiveness and quick action are important, it’s also important to take the time to figure out how you can be most useful. Asking your employee how you can help them and truly listening to their answers will allow you to do your job better, which will in turn motivate your employees even more.
Have you had any “Wins” this week?
People love to focus on their accomplishments, and asking your employees this question gives them the green-light to brag a little about what they’ve been able to do so far that week. At the end of the conversation, you can almost guarantee they will leave it feeling good about themselves, which will provide a boost to their performance.
Asking this question periodically also allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of what your employees are doing day-to-day to improve the company, allowing you to find the ones who are going above and beyond and reward them accordingly.
What part of your job are you most passionate about?
Nothing is a better motivator than passion. Even paychecks and vacations won’t keep an employee motivated about their job for very long if they are not at least somewhat passionate about what it is they do. Since most jobs have several functions and roles, it’s very likely that your employees are more passionate about some facets of their job than others, and it will be beneficial for you to find out which ones they enjoy the most.
Asking your employees what part of their job they are most passionate about not only gets them thinking about the part of their job they most enjoy, which will boost their motivation and performance. It also provides you with valuable information about how to delegate tasks in the future in a way that will be most productive.
When you can, assigning your employees tasks and projects that they are passionate about is a great way to boost their performance. If you can manage to get everyone working on a task they are passionate about, the productivity of your business is almost guaranteed to go through the roof.
Where do you want to be in ten years?
Asking your employees where they want to be in ten years (or five years, or twenty years…) is one of the most powerful things you can do to show that you truly care about their goals and aspirations. Everyone, from the janitor cleaning the hallways to the company’s CEO, have dreams about their future that they are working towards. These dreams get them out of bed in the morning and motivate them to go the extra mile.
As a leader and their boss, your employees see you as someone who can, in part, make or break these goals. In order for them to be motivated to work for you, you need to show your employees that you are willing to do everything you can to help them meet their goals and give them the tools they need to succeed.
Asking where your employees see themselves in the future not only shows them that you care about their goals, it also redirects their focus back to something that motivates them, which should provide a boost to their performance. More importantly, though, it shows that you are in their corner and on their side, which improves their motivation more than anything else you could do or say.
Being a great leader is often times all about asking the right questions, resulting in outcomes that benefit the company as whole but most importantly help you as leaders and managers to guide your employees in the right direction where everyone is happy with what they do and where they are.
Thus by asking them questions that direct their attention back to what motivates them and questions that show them that you genuinely care about first their success and second the success of the company, which if you work hard on the first, the second will follow. All and all, with just a few simple questions, we can learn on how to improve employees’ performance.
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About the author:
Kolyanne Russ is an Accounting Manager with CPA designation for one of the largest commercial real estate companies in North America. She is also a founder of Pinch of Attitude blog. It focuses on attitude-building, self-improvement, and lifestyle design to help people draw the right action plan and achieve a desirable balance between success and happiness. Her goal is to share her personal experiences as a guidance for others to learn from and build the life of their dreams and experience true happiness in every area of their life. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.