Being a founder or CEO requires a lot of time, and you often can’t chat with your employees as much as you’d like to. So how do you know if they’re happy and doing the best work they can?
To find out some direct, easy ways to learn this important information, we asked 11 founders the following question:
“I don’t check in with my employees often but would like to. What is one straight-to-the-point question to ask them when I do?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. What Can I Do for You?
“If you have a good team, you’re really just there to support them. When you check in, see what you can do to help them speed up their workflow and produce better results. If you don’t have daily contact with employees it can be tough to know what’s keeping them from doing their best work.” ~ John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation
2. How Are You?
“Everyone has a life outside of the office, and often what’s happening in employees’ lives can have a huge impact on their work. Stepping back and asking this very human question will allow you to understand where colleagues may be struggling or how you can help facilitate a solution. It also demonstrates that you care about your team members as more than employees.” ~ Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR
3. What’s the Coolest Thing You’re Working On?
“This question is great because it’s informal enough to seem innocuous, but actually reveals a lot. If your employee just shrugs, you might have an issue. I find that passion (even if it’s misguided) is the number one indication of a good employee. By getting someone to open up about what excites them, you also get a better sense of their strengths and can learn how to manage them better.” ~ Brian Honigman, BrianHonigman.com
4. What Is One Thing You Are Struggling With?
“If your employees are being honest with you (and you are open to receiving their feedback) then each and every employee should be able to admit that they are wrestling with something. You want to unearth that something. Many times leaders and managers are afraid to go looking for what may not be working. Asking the question up front and working with the employee to seek a solution empowers the employee.” ~ Christophor Jurin, Construct-Ed, Inc.
5. Can You Tell Me More About This Project?
“Ask them a specific question about a project they’re working on. It shows that you care about the services they provide to the company, and that you’re reading all those emails you’re cc’ed on.” ~ Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf
6. What Has Motivated You Lately?
“Their responses will surprise you. Your employee may share what excites him about a current project or you may discover what motivates him externally, whether it’s being with family at home, enjoying a hobby or socializing with friends. Either way, you learn more about how to challenge and empower your team. As part of the process, you demonstrate you care about their personal success, too.” ~ Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep
7. Do You Have Everything You Need to Complete the Tasks?
“Whether your employees are located in-house or you have hired virtually, it’s crucial that they have all the information, training and tools to work and deliver expected results. If any of these are missing, the daily work or even long-term goals can suffer the consequences. Make sure your employees have everything they need and know they can come to you to address any situation.” ~ Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
8. How Is What You Do Feeding Your Passion?
“I also ask what superhero they are. Without fulfilling an employees’ passion, your ability to extract the best from them is limited. The second question also provides you insight into their personality and is an unexpected one, which opens up doors to deeper conversations. To-the-point questions are important. However, taking time to really connect with your staff is far more powerful.” ~ Mina Chang, Linking the World
9. What Are Your Three Goals For the Week?
“Asking my team to name three weekly goals helps them focus on the bigger picture, accomplish more than their expected daily work and hold themselves accountable. If a goal sits on their list two weeks in a row, they have to ask themselves how important it is and focus on execution. Also, if there’s anything on the list that I can help with, I keep it on my radar during the week.” ~ Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia
10. What Can We Do Better?
“While you may have the best understanding of your company from a macro-level, employees can serve as a great resource to improve the micro-level stuff. How to make clients happier, processes more expedient, etc. Talk to your employees as if they are the experts and you will be pleasantly surprised by their ideas.” ~ Adam Stillman, SparkReel
11. What Is Frustrating You Right Now?
“Ask what’s frustrating them. Even if the employee is unwilling to take the risk and answer the question (and if you’re the boss, answering it honestly is a risk), they’ll appreciate that you cared enough to ask them how things are going. When someone answers you honestly, make it a point to celebrate them publicly — you will help shift your company’s culture for the better.” ~ Mike Seiman, CPXi
Employees Photo via Shutterstock