How to Learn From Your Team
When you’re responsible for managing a team, it’s important to understand that to achieve great results, you need to foster a culture of continuous improvement — one where everyone, yourself included, has access to the tools and support needed to enhance their performance. One of the best ways to do this is to regularly ask your employees questions designed to provide you with insights about where they’re struggling; what types of opportunities they see for the team, the company, and themselves; and how you could improve your own performance.
- What did you think about how we handled X, Y, or Z? When you ask your employees’ feedback about how you and your team approached a specific situation, you’re likely to hear varying points of view as to how things could have been done more efficiently or with a better outcome. Asking this question is particularly useful to find out if you think a team member didn’t express his or her opinion at the time — or if he or she is likely to have learned something during the project that the rest of the team missed.
- What challenges are you currently facing? This question will allow you to determine how an employee feels about his or her workload, assignments, and team. It gets any issues out in the open so you can address them if necessary. Keep in mind, however, that employees are often quite capable of meeting their own challenges, so don’t assume someone’s asking for your help until they make it clear they are.
- What can I do to give you more direction and/or support? According to Caris Thetford in her article “5 Smarter Ways to Get Feedback From Employees (That Don’t Involve a Heated Exit Interview)” for The Muse, it’s wise to find out how you can better help your employees. This will enable you to give them more support while at the same time helping you grow as a manager.
- What opportunities do you see for the team and the company? Some employees might have insights regarding opportunities that nobody else has yet picked up on. For example, a team member may have a way to streamline a process, partner with another company, or even create an innovative product.
- What opportunities do you see — or would you like to see — for yourself? Grayson Lafrenz advises in his Forbes article “5 Questions You Should Ask Your Employees Every Month” that having a discussion about your employees’ career progression shows that you care about their objectives and want to help them achieve their goals. This builds trust and can help boost engagement.
- What is the team concerned about? As Kent Julian points out in his Entrepreneur article titled “7 Surprising Questions Great Leaders Ask,” this is an important question. The answer will give you insights into whether the team is worried about something, for example a challenging project or potential downsizing. This will allow you to craft an adequate response that you can address via email or at your next meeting, if appropriate.
While it’s helpful to ask these questions more regularly, you should ask them at least every six months. In addition, when you create a setting where your employees feel comfortable enough to answer your questions honestly, it will help you help them continuously improve. And in the long run, that will benefit your employees, your team, your company, and yourself.