10 Questions to ask your employee to build trust and create engagement
The first 3 minutes of your 1–1 time with your employee matters more than you think! Are you making the most use of it?
Like first impressions, those first few minutes of supervision conversations give your employees clues to how the meeting will go and thus what they are willing to put into it.
They will gauge your level of commitment before they give you theirs. Your staff will be able to tell by your actions and demeanour.
Consider asking, “How are you doing?” while checking your phone, finishing up emails fumbling through papers, or before you even have your camera on a zoom call. All of that can clearly demonstrate that you aren’t ready. And if you’ve shown that you aren’t prepared, why should they believe you are then interested in hearing their answer. They won’t believe you will be empathetic, understanding, or curious if you aren’t all there!
Setting the tone for a meeting in this way loses your opportunity to deepen your relationship with them, create engagement and build trust.
How to make the best use of the first three minutes of your meeting
Start by being prepared
1 — Have an agenda
You are the leader, lead the meeting. Know what you are covering and ensure the employee knows too. That means they should have seen the agenda ahead of time and could add their items.
2 — Show up a few minutes early
Running from one meeting to the next doesn’t let you process what happened, make notes of things you need to follow up on or deal with nature’s needs.
Try running meetings at intervals that give you a 10–15 minute break in between.
3 — Create the “right” energy for the conversation
If you want to motivate, inspire and engage your employee in the discussion, you will need to bring the energy that creates that. Too often, we come to meetings distracted, drained and doubting we’ll have the input or outcome we desire.
Next, turn small talk into meaningful talk
If you’ve heard that you need to engage with your employees and create a relationship with them and think that one of the best ways to do that is to check-in and see how they’re doing when you first start a conversation, you’re right. But you may also find that it is useless, painful and drives you nuts, and you may even, as my client told me yesterday, think it’s a waste of time.
You may be lacking success with the “small talk” tactic because you are asking superficial questions. You’ve probably heard the adage “garbage in…garbage out” Well, it’s the same principle. If you are asking superficial questions, you’ll likely get superficial answers.
How are you doing?
How was your weekend?
Try this instead:
Be intentional about the questions you ask. Go back to the point above, and prepare ahead of time. Try preparing and then asking questions that get to their interests, values, their strengths and their passions.
Why would you want to ask these deeper levels of questions? Two reasons.
ONE: Gallup’s engagement research has shown that employees want to know that you care about them as a person. That involves more than just “How are you doing” Asking a simple question like that demonstrates you tick off the “Asked how they were doing” point off your agenda. It doesn’t show that you really care!
Caring shows you know a bit about your team member. Asking deeper questions shows you are a bit more aware of their life outside of work. These conversations demonstrate you see them as human beings with jobs. Not an employee with a job description.
TWO: It’s also essential to understand individual values and how they connect with organizational values. These types of conversations show more about what their values mean, not just the word. For example, many nonprofit employees will say family is important to them. But your definition of family, mine and your employees are likely all very different.
NOTE: To deepen your understanding of your values and use them as an essential tool to navigate leadership decisions, verify your values here.
THREE: Finding out how they really are, not just the pat answer, helps you keep a temperature on how things are going for them and their stress level. This awareness allows you to support them through change, challenges and caseloads.
Need help with what to ask instead?
Below you will find some questions you can ask. Which questions you choose and how you adapt them will depend on your personality, style, and relationships. The context will be important to keep in mind too.
Try these questions to kick-off meetings
- What are you most grateful for today?
- What happened this morning that drove you nuts?
- What have you got going on this weekend that you’re most looking forward to?
- What obstacles have you had to overcome today to get to today’s meeting?
- What have you not got to this week that you were really hoping to get to?
- If you could be anywhere other than here at work today, where would you be?
- Tell me one thing that’s on your desk and why it’s there?
- Who or what is taking up a lot of your attention these days outside of work?
- What special days do you have coming up that you will be celebrating question?
- What have you accomplished this week that was most fulfilling?
Try picking one or two and try them in the first few minutes of your conversation with an employee and let me know how it goes.
What other questions would you add? Post them below.
Originally published at https://www.kathyarcher.com.