What defines a great manager? There are a lot of views on this, and if we're being honest, most of them may be valid to a large extent. We believe one of the critical traits of a great manager is their ability to coach and engage with their team members to learn and feel more confident at tackling the challenging tasks they face daily.
A manager can effectively provide this coaching to the team only when they can understand the skills, talents and challenges that they currently possess. Without understanding their challenges, it becomes tough for the manager to roll out any positive coaching.
One of the ways managers can understand the team members’ challenges is to ask the right questions that can bring out the answers required for the manager to understand the team members’ coaching requirements better.
This is also a great way to improve employee engagement within the business.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement, in simple terms, means when employees feel like giving 100% to their work when they are excited to be part of the business and honestly believe that the work they do daily serves a purpose.
Why is employee engagement important?
Employee engagement is significant for businesses. No wonder a lot of investment is being pushed into finding exciting ways to keep the employees engaged at work.
- Are more productive.
- Contribute to the profits of the company.
- Are more loyal to the company.
- Motivate other employees in the company to give their best.
Importance of team-building questions
So employee engagement all sounds good, but how does one go about improving the employees’ engagement levels?
By talking. That’s it—simple and old school. Employees can be engaged by having good conversations. But as every manager knows, even the most promoted open-door policies may not necessarily encourage employees to talk to their superiors.
To make this a more seamless process, managers can ask relevant, engaging and fun questions in both an informal setting and formal meetings with not just individual employees but also the whole team.
This opens the door to conversations between the manager and the team members. Questions asked in team meetings give the team the chance to bond together and build better relationships. This creates an opportunity to open up conversations, which eventually leads to the creation of an environment of trust between the manager and the team members.
It also eventually leads to better engagement, better productivity, and better results for the business. This is why managers need to use team-building questions to generate conversations with the team.
Top questions to improve employee engagement
There are tons of questions that managers can ask their employees to understand various aspects of their personal and professional lives. We will start with some of the top questions that we think managers should ask their team members.
Do you need help with something at work?
Open up the chance for the employee to talk about any challenges they are currently facing in their day to day work. This enables leaders and managers to also provide some guidance or solutions to the challenges being faced by the employee based on their own experiences.
Are there any skills that you would like to learn?
Encourage the employee to think about what new skills they want to learn and consider evaluating their current skill set and what kind of skill sets they would need for their growth and development. From a manager’s perspective, this helps the manager understand how best to set up a training plan for the employee.
Have you got any questions for me?
This is a great question, primarily used in sales and interviews, but should be used by managers regularly. The employee answering this question can use this as an opportunity to ask any unanswered questions they have had. It also assists the manager in better understanding what is on the employee’s mind.
What is the one thing that you think we can do to improve our team productivity?
Employees have a range of ideas to improve their work environment. But they sometimes feel that they might not have the opportunity to push those ideas or are too busy in their work to take the time out to think about implementing these ideas.
Using this question, a manager can pull these ideas out of the employees and work with them to improve the team’s productivity.
How would you like for me to provide you with feedback?
One of the manager’s tasks is to provide feedback to their team members. But not all team members may similarly respond to input; this is why it is essential to understand how each employee would like to receive their feedback.
Questions to ask at the start of the week
Here are a few questions that a manager can ask a team member at the start of a week.
Do you have access to all the tools and materials you need to do your work?
This question is not asked often after a new employee is onboarded. Still, the fact is that the work environment is an ever-changing environment, and team members continuously need to think about the tools and resources that they have at their disposal for completing their tasks.
What could have made your previous week more productive?
Bring out any particular challenges that the employee had faced during the previous week. This helps the manager ensure that those challenges can be overcome during this week to improve the employee’s productivity.
Have you been recognised for any contribution in the past week?
Remind the employee about good things that happened in the previous week in the hope of using that as the motivation for working well in the current week. If they were not recognised in the previous week, it also opens up an opportunity for the manager to improve their employee recognition processes.
What are your top priorities this week?
Get a better understanding of the employee’s top priorities for the coming week and help them plan their work in a better way.
Questions to ask during 1:1s
The objective of 1:1s is to enable the manager and the employee to understand each other better and for them to do a performance review.
Who is doing a great job in the team?
Understand the contributions of other team members and how the employee recognises (or does not recognise) their peer’s contributions at work.
Are you inspired by the mission and the vision of the organisation?
This is a question that needs to be asked in a 1:1 for the manager to understand if the employee is able to connect their purpose with the mission and vision of the organisation. The response can help the manager identify if the employee is genuinely engaged at work or not.
Do you feel you have a good work/life balance?
An employee’s engagement at work is very much dependent on the balance they can create between their work and personal lives. This question can help the manager understand if the employee can have a healthy balance between these or not, especially for the employees that work remotely.
What are the achievements that you are proud of?
A manager might not have complete visibility into all the great stuff an employee does daily. On the other hand, the employee may feel unrecognised when the manager does not celebrate their achievements. Hence, this question helps the manager learn about those achievements and allows them to observe their team member’s work.
Fun questions to ask employees
All work and no play make the manager look like a serious person. Great managers know when to have fun with their teams and when to get professional to get work done. This is where managers can ask a few personality questions that can help them better understand the interests and personalities of the employees.
Here are a few fun questions that a manager can ask their team members to create a better connection with them:
Who is your role model?
Get a glimpse of the aspirations and characteristics of your people in a better way.
What is a good book that you recently read?
Learn about the reading interests of the employee and also open up further opportunities to talk about other topics related to the genre or the author of the book.
What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have a specific hobby?
The information derived from this question can help the manager understand what kind of person the employee is and also be able to plan a lot of fun activities that can be used for team building. It also opens up opportunities for further conversations if the manager is interested in similar hobbies.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
A common question asked during onboarding or getting to know new team members. It is, however, important as it tells more about the aims and goals of the employee as they explain what they can achieve using the superpower they have chosen.
Open the door for valuable conversations.
There are tons of questions that managers can ask their team members and use to help coach them better. Proper tools like Mesh can help you plan and curate the 1:1 process; the task becomes much more simplified and efficient.