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Questions You Should Be Asking Your Team

Often when leaders think of communicating with their team, they envision talking to their team members - giving advice, keeping the team informed of changes, providing updates, etc. While keeping your team up to date is essential, effective communication (just like feedback) should be a two-way street. Effectively communicating with your team includes a balance of sharing and listening.

Be intentional about checking in with your team members and asking them questions - not questions that are rooted in micromanaging or lack of trust (or closed-ended questions that allow you to "check the box"), but open-ended questions that empower them to share their perspective. Some team members have a natural comfort level with letting you know how they are doing and what they need (you should still ask them questions, btw - don't assume they will come to you), but many team members can be hesitant to open dialogue.

Here is a suggested list of questions to facilitate dialogue with your team members:

Individual Level Questions

What's on your mind?

What challenges are you experiencing right now?

What do you need?

What are you getting from me that you find helpful?

What are (or aren't) you getting from me that impedes your ability to be effective?

What could I do for you that would help you be more successful?

Team Level Questions

What is our team getting from me that is helpful?

What could I do to help our team be more successful?

The other key element to listening? Actually listening! Too often we listen with the intent to respond, rather than with the intent to understand. Admit it, how often are you thinking about what you want to say next while someone else is talking? After you ask a question, really listen to the response. Don't worry about having all of the answers all of the time. You are asking the questions to help your team member feel valued and heard, and to actually hear their perspective - not with the end goal of having an immediate response.

"Answers are closed rooms; and questions are open doors that invite us in."

-Nancy Willard


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