4 questions to ask your team members

Knowing how to ask the right questions can be the difference between being an okay manager and a great one.

At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about four questions you should ask employees to get insight into them and their work, better understand where you can be the most useful, in many cases improve your team’s work product, and even increase people’s morale. You can read it here.

{ 15 comments… read them below }

  1. Mean Something

    I like these, not least because they are very widely applicable across fields and types of managerial role. My role as a high school department chair does not always involve the kind of managerial authority that is sometimes assumed in other fields, but these are all questions I can ask teachers in the department I lead.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      My mind went to jane fondas character in 9-5 but now i can totally see tootsie

    2. grasshopper

      I saw Tootsie too! The hair, the glasses, the velvet blazer, the fist under the chin pose – it all adds up to Tootsie!

    1. Rorschach clip art

      Grr… that was supposed to be in response to Formica. But since I’m here, I actually also loved the tips themselves. I can tell you that I would have loved to hear a manager ask me these questions. Without some kind of a check-in, it really seems like they don’t care, whether or not that’s true.

  2. SevenSixOne

    Yeah, I’ve had managers ask the questions… only to ignore the answers, get defensive, or shame people for giving input that’s anything but 100% what the manager wants to hear. I think that kind of reaction is even more frustrating than never checking in at all.

    Managers, don’t bother asking the questions if you aren’t willing to really listen to the answers, make an effort to implement the suggestions keep hearing, and then start over asking NEW questions a little while later.

    1. Overcast

      That kind of response torpedoes my ability to trust management in all areas.

      (It’s goal-setting season at work and all I can think of in response to “what can I do [as your manager] to better support you?” is “please quit.”)

  3. Stranger than fiction

    My manager is great at checking in or even if i just want to vent the door is open. We totally see eye to eye on what’s dysfunctional and never gonna change so at least we can get stuff off our chest

  4. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

    I was on the verge of leaving my job about 18 month ago, and as silly as it sounds, I took another look and decided to stay because the committee doing my evaluation said, “We really want you to stay here, and we want you to be happy here”. I wish they had followed that up by asking me what it would take (at the time $ wasn’t an option), because I had a simple answer (I could have given it anyway, but didn’t think to in the moment). But it really meant a lot to me. In 9 years, nobody had every explicitly told me that they wanted me to stay. And when you report to a board (which can be so fickle and unpredictable), you just sort of bounce between wondering if they absolutely love you are are just too lazy to get rid of you. I don’t plan to stay forever, but it was the boost I needed to hang in there through a rough spot.

  5. Overcast

    1. I’m worried that the new employee recognition program is just a popularity contest where the employees vote, the management decides who they want to win anyway and the prizes don’t matter.

    2. Um, well… We’ve really stepped up the time waste in our meetings lately, so that initiative is taking off.

    3. Literally everything. Where do I start?

    4. Dissolve antidepressants into the water cooler and pass out warm cookies when the office opens.

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