As a leader of your company or team, chances are that you spend a lot of time sharing information, instructions or otherwise projecting what you need from your staff or team members.
And it’s natural that the nature of your conversations work this way!
After all, you are the one guiding the ship! And you are directing what other people need to do to get a task or project done, so naturally, most of your words are of the directions or commanding variety.
But while leaders are exceptional at giving instructions, and can relay the importance of a task or job to their team members, it’s also essential to ask questions.
Granted, chances are you ask questions of your staff members every day.
And while these kinds of questions are certainly a necessity to obtain updates on works in process, they’re not necessarily the type of questions that will take your team as well as your reputation as an effective leader to the next level.
So what type of questions are we talking about? There are three broad types of queries that you want to make sure you’re using at the workplace.
Each of these types bring a different benefit to the table.
Your employees will notice if you’re invested in their lives and care about how they are doing. The only way for this to come across is to ask questions.
Now, these questions don’t have to be of the super-personal variety, and clearly shouldn’t be too intimate or probing.
But a simple repertoire that inquires about their interests, hobbies, work environment or just how their day is going, will work wonders on fostering better relationships.
Obviously, this should be done with tact, and without crossing that line from curiosity to probing.
For example, it’s perfectly fine to ask “I heard you like hiking – any trails in the area you recommend?” but it is not appropriate to ask “I heard you are single – seeing anyone serious?”
A little common sense is pretty much all that is required to ensure your questions don’t come across as intrusive.
Every team member or employee has a different style of working, for better or for worse.
Some people prefer absolute silence, while others like to chat or work in groups. Some employees tend to wait until the last minute to get started, while others like to plot a big project out and do a little at a time.
And the best way to find out how everyone on your team works – without excessive micro-managing – is to ask questions.
Now these questions don’t have to be of the accusatory nature, and in fact, should be devoid of any judgment.
For example, an employee will likely have a negative reaction if they hear “Why did you wait until today to start on this task?” but may respond more positively if asked, “It seems like you work best under pressure or a tight deadline – what do you think?”
Garner information by asking these non-judgmental questions that seek to understand an employee’s work habits, and you’ll not only build relationships but also garner a better understanding of how your employees work best.
People who regularly ask questions are curious, value other people’s input, and like to find the best solution for a task or problem from a wide array of resources.
So naturally, asking questions is a great skill for any member of your team to have, regardless of their position.
As the leader or boss, your behavior is the model that others follow to see how they should act and communicate in the workplace, and by asking questions yourself, you can guide your team into a more curious environment where your team members communicate well with each other.
Perhaps most important, asking questions also inspires your team members and staff to come up with their own ideas, contribute, and potentially find new solutions that haven’t been considered yet.
A simple “How would you go about this?” “What do you think is the best way to proceed?” or even just “What do you think?” can get imaginations and brains humming, and may very well lead to outside-the-box or brilliant results.
So ask questions, and keep your team members and staff engaged. While direction is certainly necessary to get things done, asking questions will propel your team forward.
How have you asked questions in the past? Let us know in the comments section below!