The Top 7 New Manager Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports

The Top 7 New Manager Questions to Ask Your Direct Reports
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Truly Great Managers Ask Great Questions
We know from our People Manager Assessment Center data that the best managers encourage their employees to reflect, learn, and grow.  They do this by asking great new manager questions that show their interest, their support, and their confidence in the employee’s ability to find solutions.  Sure, it can be easier sometimes to simply tell your employee what to do.  But then they will come to rely on following orders and not developing their own skills and abilities.

The best managers don’t diminish their employees by treating them like children; they give their employees an opportunity to grow by stimulating their critical thinking skills and their ability and desire to learn.

A Proven Method
By asking, not telling, you encourage your employees to think for themselves and find their own solutions to problems.  This is the way to build a team of self-starters who are creative, engaged, and collaborative.

Developmental Questions
Here are some proven new manager questions based upon 30 years of feedback from both new manager training and more experienced management training programs that encourage thoughtful, insightful answers:

  1. What Does Personal and Professional Success Look Like to You?
    This question can be asked in terms of long-term goals or in reference to a specific project. It can help you as a manager either work on a career development plan that leads to the employee’s future goals or help to plan more immediate action steps that can move a project forward.
  2. What Result Do You Want?
    A question like this can help an employee define the specific outcomes that they seek. With goals and accountabilities clearly articulated, they will be better able to think through a viable path to get there.
  3. What Difficulties Are You Facing?
    This question helps to focus on obstacles to the goal. As a manager, you can help work on a strategy that will clear any hurdles.  Examples are personal problems, conflict on the team, lack of resources, unclear priorities, lack of collaboration, lack of skills, lack of motivation, etc.
  4. What Is Under Your Control? Out of Your Control?
    A question like this can guide the employee toward more effective efforts.  Instead of getting stuck battling against a policy that can’t be changed, the employee can explore various work-arounds and get back to making progress where they have influence.
  5. What Solutions Are You Considering?
    Helping your employee make good decisions is a significant part of a manager’s job. Explore the various options for action together.  Ask further questions to help choose the best alternative.
  6. What Do You Like to Do When You’re Not At Work?
    The better you get to know your team members on a personal level, the better you are at appreciating their interests and their talents and recognizing their efforts at work in a meaningful way.
  7. If You Could Change One Thing About Your Job, What Would it Be?
    This question can lead you down various paths. Be open and ready to actively listen to their feedback — especially if it is about how you manage them.  Your goal is to understand how you can better support, engage, develop, and retain them.

The Bottom Line
Whenever you meet with a team member, make sure you are present, ready to listen, and focused on setting them up for success based upon the situation.  Use these new manager questions to learn more so you can manage better.

To learn more about how to become a better manager, download The 4 High Performance Management Metrics that Matter Most

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