Being an effective leader is about understanding what is going on around you.

In the military, it is called ‘Situational Awareness’ and often the people who have the most pertinent information about the situation are those working for you.

Questions are powerful tools, knowing how to wield them with precision is key to becoming a better leader.

How to ask?

If it’s about asking the questions, how do you ask the right questions in the right way?

  1. Ask these questions like you truly care & want to know the answers. You’re not reading from a script, ask with authenticity.
  2. You asked, so be prepared to hear answers that you may not like, but time to listen — openly and honestly.
  3. The answer you need may not happen the first time you try. But if you ask with sincerely and humbly you will build trust & confidence. So ask regularly and the quality of the information you gather will improve.

Read about the 6 things you need to communicate

What to ask?

1. What is your biggest accomplishment this month?

Why?

  • This question provides a sense of forward motion and progress.
  • When a worker relates positive information, it gives them a sense of personal accomplishment.
  • Answers give you both oversight and performance improvement potential.
  • You have a measure if people are contributing in the ways that you need them to.

2. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Why?

  • You can begin to understand where the worker is struggling.
  • You can learn about pinch points in an employee’s process, work, or the company culture.
  • It puts your conversation into problem-solving mode because when you know where your team member is struggling, you can do something about it.

Read how not to Eff Up talking to your people

3. What things should we do differently or what processes can we improve?

Why?

  • People understands that things can be done differently, so by being open to feedback from ‘below’ can be invaluable.
  • When team members recognize that they can provide value beyond their job description you can harness this power to improve the company.
  • You may not always act on every suggestion, but you’re going to discover some things that truly need to change.

4. What resources would be helpful to you right now?

Why?

  • By using the word “resources” you’re opening the door beyond money.
  • What you might think employees need is often different from what they want.
  • Don’t assume the solution is more people or money, trust the people working the project understand what will solve the issue.

Read about how to listen

5. Is there anything I can help you with?

Why?

  • It lets your employees know you’re a human and care about their success and well-being.
  • It allows you to understand any personal factors that may influence their work.
  • It demonstrates you’re a real human being.
  • By showing sincere interest in their life and improvement, you improve your working relationship with them.

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