One of the most direct routes to being a great manager is to learn how to unleash the potential of your individual employees. This requires you to not just be a manager but a coach with the ability to ask Powerful Questions.
Powerful Questions are:
- Open-ended – They cannot be answered in a single word, they elicit thoughtful responses
- Non-judgmental – They aren’t leading, they don’t encompass your personal views
- Provocative – They challenge thinking and probe for new thoughts
- Respectful – They consider your employee’s feelings and emotions in order to obtain honest answers
- Elicit an entire story from an employee, not just a fragment of information
- Uncover an employee’s judgments, attitudes and motivations
- Reveal actions the employees are taking and determine if those actions are resulting in the results they hope to achieve
- Help employees discover for themselves how they can best support, contribute, and deliver the desired results for the business, the team, and themselves
There are 12 Powerful Questions that managers can ASK their people that include:
1. What is most important for you to talk about?
What’s #1 on your employee’s mind? This should become important to you, too! What they want or need to talk about may have nothing to do with work, but it may directly impact their performance. Even when you raise a topic, uncover what’s most important for the employee within that subject.
2. What are your desired results?
Ask employees about the results they want to achieve. This empowers them to establish goals they can own. Once you, as the manager, understand your employees’ desired results, you can help them shape goals that will support their success.
3. What are your actual results today, and how did they happen?
Your employees need to understand where they are starting. Then they can identify the gaps to be bridged between actual and desired results. This question can be very revealing as employees talk about things they believe have held them back.
You can check out all 12 questions here. The key is to personalize them and give them your unique style, and be sure you’re listening actively. The best part about this approach is that besides getting to the heart of the matters with your employees, you will also be establishing trust and reinforcing your relationships with the people who work for you.
What works best for you when you coach an employee?
Note: Portions of this blog have been excerpted from Gary Magenta’s forthcoming book, ASK – 12 powerful questions to make the best manager at work and the best person in life.
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