Ask questions as a manger and you'll not only better understand your team members and their situations, you'll likely get more out of them. A manager who strikes up conversations with his employees and asks questions is often seen as employee-oriented and someone who wants his team to improve and is willing to help them do so. Prepare yourself to ask basic questions and deeper, more thorough ones.
Team Member Needs
Not all employees are outspoken extroverts who come to you and clearly explain what they need. Your team members likely have needs that aren't met, which can prevent them from upping their performance, so ask them what it is they need to be more productive and efficient. Maybe the team thinks they could work more effectively and have more motivation if they worked a four-day week, or maybe individual members need more freedom to make decisions so they can complete projects faster and more effectively. Have some ideas of your own so you can spark the conversation.
Your management style's not perfect -- no one's is. It's difficult to gauge how much better you could manage your team if you welcome criticism. Ask your team members what they think of your management style. Ask them in what ways your style helps them succeed and elements of your style that stifle their production. Maybe your micromanaging saps your team of their motivation but certain aspects of that style help projects come together in an organized manner. You may want to ask this question in a survey format and guarantee anonymity. Some employees won't open up if you ask them face-to-face.
Road Map to Success
To achieve success, your team members need a plan on how they want to make it happen, so talk to them about it. Ask them what goals they have set, where they see themselves next year, the year after, in five years. Ask them how they plan to turn a project into a success or meet the company's expectations. Asking these types of questions enables you to find out if your team members need a bit of help in setting goals and whether they understand where to focus their efforts to best achieve success.
Ask for Input
Involve your team members in the decision making process and ask for their opinions about changes, projects and the workplace in general. For instance, suppose you work as a sales manager at a large car dealership. You're thinking of recommending the purchase of tablets for each salesperson. Talk to your team and ask for their opinions. Ask them if they feel the additional technology is something they could put to good use or if they believe it won't positively impact their day-to-day tasks.
Follow up your questions with additional questions whenever possible. Doing so gives you a great understanding of your team's answers and shows employees that you aren't asking hollow questions with no interest in actually helping them. For instance, suppose you ask a team member about his goals. After he tells you, ask him how realistic he feels each goal is and how he plans to accomplish each one.
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