Simple questions to ask to understand your employees.

As an NLP-Coach for decision-makers in companies, I come across many types of leaders, and I have also experienced many myself.

It is not easy to become a manager. It sounds great to have more responsibility and that people will need to listen to you. Being a manager, unfortunately, is not that easy as many people think.

I have been in management positions for an extended period, and to be honest, I suck in being an employee. I always see what was hurting the environment and communication methods that could improve and especially what a manager needed to change to become a better manager. I can imagine how annoying I was, not that I was telling them all the time how to be better, but I never lasted if I had no option to share my experience as a team member.

In the end, when I look back, this experience has helped me become the manager I am today and understand many perspectives or my team members.

One thing I had since the beginning was open communication and mutual respect for my team. Other aspects I learned along the way of managing a team, the more I studied NLP, Cognitive therapy, and leadership, the more I saw what many times is done wrong. This has mostly to do with managers not getting excellent training/coaching before becoming a manager and not thinking they need it.

Being a good employee that grows into a management role, only says you did a fantastic job. It does not mean you are also a good manager. You need to grow into this. Companies should offer training to people they make the manager or put into a higher role. To make sure they know what else comes along while being a manager.

During my 1-1 coaching sessions with the decision-makers of businesses, I come across many managers that have a communication problem with their team or some employees.

The troublemakers they call them, while they are the employees that are not afraid to speak up for their rights and worth. They are not in trouble. 

When an employee gives you feedback about something or another answer than you like to hear, many times, you, as a manager, get upset and think the employee disrespects you.

Why is that? 

 You can tell your vision and give feedback, but not the other way around? When I ask this, the most common answer is: ¨Because I am his/her superior¨. 

My answer: Yes, does that mean you cannot listen to what others have to say and understand your team better. Which can help you become a better manager?

Silence…. That is what happens mostly after this question. There is no weakness, failure, or whatsoever in also getting feedback and listen to the vision of your employees.

Most do not speak up, the ones who do…. well, they mostly say what the rest of the team is thinking. Have that in mind!

When this happens, you can ask some simple questions to your employee to understand the situation better. 

  1. Why do you see it like this?
  2. Could you explain to me your view?
  3. What would you like to see different in this aspect?

And the question to use when you are finishing up the conversation: 

  1. Is there is something else that you would like to share or not feeling content with that impacts your work? 
  • This question is important. Maybe they open-up over something else than work. Even when this happens, you need to know and listen to.  

Close the conversation with: I appreciate you are telling me all this and that you have shared your vision. I will do my best to reflect on everything and see what I can improve on short notice to make you feel more comfortable. Let’s talk in about three weeks again how the situation has changed for you. I want to ask you also to have patience, and that change needs time, but the effort will be there.

Evaluate the answers you have had. It is your job to make your team feel comfortable, take their feedback seriously, and have a follow-up.

You do not need to be 100% the manager they like, but every feedback has something you can take on and improve in your way.

You will probably see a shift in their working behaviors also and notice they are more engaged.

Do not get frustrated when someone gives you their opinion or provides some feedback back. Although you are their manager, employees have a voice also. Ask them questions, understand their perspective. It is, most of the time, completely different than what you are thinking!