The secret to unlocking your team is to see things from their perspectives.
There’s no better way to see things from your people’s perspectives than asking them the right questions. And the right questions are thought-provoking questions that drive deeper reflection and cultivate growth.
Asking these questions requires leaders to demonstrate a huge amount of respect to and care for their teams. Remember that people are behind the success of every goal. That’s the reason these questions are powerful and crucial to the success of your organization.
If you want to positively influence your team, lead like a coach by asking these 20 crucial questions that help build connection, create alignment, solve problems and support their career growth:
Crucial Questions That Build Connection
“The greatest asset of every organization is its people.” — Coach Anda
Often, as a leader, you are preoccupied with creating strategies or implementing processes to achieve your goals and targets without taking a step back and taking the time to observe and understand your teams.
However, one of your critical roles is to build connections that will enable you to see the world from each team member’s lens.
If you want to build a connection with your team, you need to shift your mindset from being ‘the boss’ to becoming a people manager who cares about the people they lead and not just concerned about the numbers they need to hit.
To lead with your people in mind, ask yourself: “How do I want to help my team?”
And then ask your team these crucial connection questions:
Q1: How can I help you today?
Q2: What support do you need?
Q3: Where do you feel stuck?
Q4: How motivated are you today?
Q5: How is your work/life balance?
These questions show that you care about your people.
Small talks like these are very powerful in building connections. When you start making these small talks, you will be surprised at what you will find out. Build that connection and build relationships with your team if you want to positively influence them.
You don’t know what people are going through. To be able to know how you can help them, you need to ask them.
Crucial Questions That Create Alignment
“Alignment is not just about you. Real alignment is to ensure that you understand where people are coming from and how your decisions affect them.” — Coach Anda
Leaders who have problems with alignment often find themselves wondering why things don’t seem to turn out the way they expect them to. They commonly say: “I thought they already understood what we’re doing. I thought they got it. Turns out, they don’t.”
Alignment on goals is critical to your and your team’s success in achieving your common goals. Without alignment, you can’t work together as a team towards your goals.
If you find yourself wondering why your team “doesn’t seem to get it,” you’re probably not asking the right questions to get them to the same page as where you are.
Are you 100% sure that your team is with you or aligned with you, especially when you’re giving directions? Always check where people are operating from.
Creating alignment is a two-way process, not one way. After giving directions, instructions or plans, ask the team powerful questions to check their understanding of the goal.
Don’t just announce and then assume that you are on the same page with them. It rarely happens. Here are five crucial questions to ask your team to create alignment:
Q1: What is the impact of this project to you and your team?
Q2: On a scale of 1-5, how do you think this will help you?
Q3: What challenges do you have in your role in this project?
Q4: How does this align with what is important for you?
Q5: What do we need to do together to be aligned?
Stay curious about their responses. It will help you know whether the plan or project is something they feel strongly about that they can work on. It’s about working together to achieve the goal.
If the project or plan seems more like a mandate to the team, and they are not engaged or invested in it, find out what will make them become more engaged and compelled enough to help you and your team accomplish your goals.
Crucial Questions That Help Solve Problems
“At first glance, when you look at a problem you only see the outcome. You need to find out the bigger story behind the problem to solve it. Do not just focus on the tip of the iceberg.” — Coach Anda
When you feel like some of your people are stuck, when you feel like there is a barrier to where they need to go, you give words of support to help them solve whatever problems they encounter.
What are the things that are not helping them anymore? What do they need to eliminate? You want them to reflect and think of ways to be more effective.
But don’t just give them the solutions you have in mind. Co-create the solution with them. That way, they will feel that they own it, as well. Here are five questions you should be asking your team so you get to solve problems together:
Q1: What is the one step you can take to get to your goal?
Q2: What are your recurring patterns that are not effective?
Q3: How can you do things differently?
Q4: What can I help you with today?
Q5: What are the beliefs that are not serving you anymore?
In one of the workshops I did, one of the employees answered this question with:
“I want my boss to openly tell me when I’m doing things right and when I’m doing things wrong because that honesty and feedback can help me become a better person.”
The boss was there and instantly, he knew that that was what that person wanted, so he took note of it. He wouldn’t have known it had we not asked during the workshop.
Remember that your people might already be doing things right, but with support, they can do it even better!
These crucial questions help your team zero in on one important thing: How can I do my job better with the help of my manager?
Crucial Questions That Support Career Growth
“Where we work is an extension of ourselves. We stay in an organization because it is aligned to our values and our beliefs. We are engaged and motivated with the work that we do when the organization is able to support our growth and goals.” — Coach Anda
Career-related conversations with your team shouldn’t be a once-a-year conversation. This should be an ongoing conversation throughout the year. To support your team’s career growth, find out what their strengths are, and what they are excited about work.
One of the questions in Gallup’s Q12, the most important questions to ask your teams to keep them engaged, is, “When my manager focuses on my growth, I feel engaged.”
Everyone looks for growth. And if you can support your team in their career growth, they will become engaged. Why? Because career growth is important to them. Here are five crucial questions to ask your team to support their career growth:
Q1: What excites you?
Q2: Where do you want to go?
Q3: What’s the impact that you want to have?
Q4: What gaps and challenges do you have?
Q5: How can I help you get there?
In bigger teams, focus on your direct reports. And make sure that they are able to do it for their own direct reports.
By simply asking the right questions, you can build high-performing teams with engaged employees who will be there to support the team to achieve your goals.