Quick Tips

These small but powerful nuggets of leadership wisdom can be quickly and easily implemented in the workplace.

5 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask Their Direct Reports

Adapted by Kim Gibbons from the Harvard Business Review article, 5 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask Their Direct Reports by Susan Peppercorn

As highlighted in the article “Great Leaders are Great Learners,” it is important that we keep learning, at all stages of our life. And, as a leader, it is imperative we take this a step further and continuously explore how we can help our employees learn and grow at all stages of their careers. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review might help answer these questions. In the article,
Susan Peppercorn shares the 5 Questions Every Manager Needs to Ask Their Direct Reports.

During your next one-on-one with your direct reports, consider asking them these questions to determine what motivates your team and why.

  1. How would you like to grow within this organization?
    A recent Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of people – regardless of their level – leave their company because of a lack of career-development opportunities. Use this opportunity to learn what your staff is looking for and how you can help them develop and grow. This question ties nicely with The Leadership Challenge® Practice Enable Others to Act Behavior #29 (Ensures people grow in their jobs by learning new skills and developing themselves).
  2. Do you feel a sense of purpose in your job?
    Doesn’t everyone want to do a job they feel passionate about? Maybe you can’t find the exact match for your employees’ passion, but maybe you can use what you learn to tap into what’s meaningful for them and connect it with your agency’s values and mission. This question allows you to focus on two of The Leadership Practice Behaviors – Model the Way Behavior #21 (Build consensus around a common set of values for running our organization) and Inspire a Shared Vision Behavior #27 (Speaks with genuine conviction about the higher meaning and purpose of our work).
  3. What do you need from me to do your best work?
    As leaders we must ensure that our staff has what they need to be successful. We must know them as people. We must take every opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments. And we must provide them with regular feedback so they can be successful. This question links with Enable Others to Act Behavior #14 (Treats others with dignity and respect) and Encourage the Heart Behavior #30 (Gets personally involved in recognizing people and celebrating accomplishments).
  4. What are we currently not doing as a company that you feel we should do?
    Wow! What a way to empower your employees. Asking them for how to improve the work being done by your team, group, or organization. Your staff will feel valued, important, and listened to when they are asked to share their thoughts for improvement. What an amazing way to allow your staff to Challenge the Process!
  5. Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
    Even your best, hardest working employees may be in jobs that don’t tap into their full potential and talents. As a leader, if you learn from your staff what those skills and talents are, and then figure out how to best utilize them, you will surely find happier employees and improved outcomes for your organization. This is a great way to Enable Others to Act, specifically involving people in the decision that directly impact their job performance (Behavior #19).

I hope these questions lead to some fruitful conversations with your team members. I would love to hear how it goes! Drop me a note and let me know!