So often, being a leader is about having (or getting) answers. We’re accustomed to being in charge and making critical decisions, and it’s easy to forget that one of our primary goals should be to aggregate knowledge. We hire great employees, and if we don’t take to time to mine their valuable knowledge, we’re missing a colossal opportunity.
So your staff knows valuable stuff. And how do you get it? You ask!
- What are your personal goals and visions? You know why you started your company, and you know what you hope to achieve. But don’t ever miss an opportunity to find out what your staff is striving for. Why? Because if you can tie your employees’ goals to those of your company, then they’re going to be even more motivated to see your business succeed. Working to make your company a win-win for everyone involved pays huge dividends.
- How can I serve you better? Helping your employees to see that you’re ready and willing to support them is another strategy for strengthening loyalty. Not only will this question give you insight into how you can bolster your staff’s success, but it shows your investment and engagement in seeing satisfied employees.
- What’s the biggest roadblock you face? While your employees may rely on you to be the chief problem-solver, you can’t solve problems you’re unaware of. Just ask. Your staff may have struggles you know nothing about, and the first step to eliminating roadblocks is identifying them. Helping your staff work more efficiently and effectively not only improves their outlook, but it benefits your bottom line as well.
- Who in the company do you admire? This question serves a dual purpose. First it helps you identify the rock stars in your company, particularly the ones who might be flying under the radar. Second, it helps you uncover the social network in play at your company – connections that might be invisible to the boss. Understanding who gets things done and who supports their fellow employees can be key for promoting future success.
- What’s wrong in this company? You may not like all the answers you get, but it’s critical that you take advantage of the diverse perspectives in your employees. There could be problems you didn’t know existed. There could also be solutions you hadn’t envisioned. Diverse points of view are a great asset, but only if you access them!
- How can we serve our customers better? Another dual purpose question, this inquiry takes advantage of your staff’s varied experience and insight, and it also serves to bring your employees’ focus back to where it belongs: delivering excellent service. Modeling for your staff that it all comes down to putting out a great product helps demonstrate your priorities.
Asking these specific questions not only helps you understand and benefit from your staff’s knowledge, but it also serves to keep communication lines open. Too often we transmit information to our staff, and we forget just how valuable it can be to collect information. Open communication fosters growth and success.
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”