Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Staff Communications: 10 Questions You Must Always Ask Employees

June 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 173


Effective staff communications are based on the quality of the questions you ask: not the answers you get. You'll only get useful answers when you ask good questions. Here are some questions that you should always ask and continue to ask.

1. What do you think we should do?

When an employee seeks your advice or counsel, seek their opinion. They may well know what to do and simply be seeking reinforcement. They may have information that you need. You want them to simply avoid "dumping" their problems in your lap. They may have a brilliant idea that you desperately need but won't discover unless you ask. Asking also reinforces your faith in their judgement.

2. What makes you say that?

You want to find out what the employee thinks. But you also want to know what's made them form their opinion. Their insights may be based on evaluations that may be unknown to you.

3. Are you saying that... ?

Paraphrasing is one of the key techniques for effective communication. You should use it all the time because what employees mean and what they say may not be the same. Some employees simply aren't good at expressing their thoughts in words. Paraphrasing is the answer. You repeat in your own words what you think the speaker means. It's a very effective clarification technique.

4. What are you trying to achieve?

The importance of performance goals and performance standards can't be overstated. Constantly asking this question is a good method of ensuring that employees realize that a results focus is essential.

5. How would that affect the business?

The purpose of all suggestions is to build a better business. An employee may have what seems to be a truly sensational idea. It's most important that they relate their ideas to their effect on business success. They should keep the "business perspective" in sight at all times.

6. How would customers be affected?

Pleasing and satisfying customers is at the heart of a sustainable business. Keep customers in mind in all actions. This question helps employees do that.

7. If we do what you suggest what are the likely consequences?

Some idea or suggestion may seem overwhelmingly attractive. As such the possible consequences may be ignored. You'll discover the negative effects when it's too late to retrieve the situation. Always discuss consequences.

8. What do you want me to do?

Always ask this question. The employee may not want you to so anything. They may simply be seeking permission to follow a particular course of action. Alternatively they may need your help in a variety of ways. You won't know unless you ask.

9. How long has this been going on?

This is the title of a George and Ira Gershwin classic song. It's also information you, as manager, need. Is the idea or suggestion new? Is it designed to avoid a new problem or finally resolve an old "burr under the saddle". You need to know so that you can provide your best advice and decide how much attention the issue deserves.

10. When will you get back to me?

This is the question you're most likely to forget to ask. You have a very fruitful discussion with an individual or team. But a deadline for further action or research is essential for satisfactory resolution. Always ask. And make a note to follow up before the deadline.

No "Whys"

You may have already noticed that not one of my questions started with the word "Why?" This is deliberate. I know that you've almost certainly been told how important it is. And it is important to know why. But asking questions starting with "Why?" doesn't necessarily get you the information you want. More often than not, asking "Why?" simply elicits opinions and judgements.

Use "Whats?" and "Hows?"

Questions starting with "What" and "How" elicit information that enables you to deduce reasons without the reasons being muddled by bias and opinion. You find out "what happened" by asking that exactly. You'll discover why something happened only after discovering "What".

"Why" isn't a good starting point for fact.

The Overall Purpose

Asking these questions leads to

  • Clearer and more specific communication
  • Employees understanding what you expect from them
  • Not accepting employee frustrations as your own
  • Employees thinking through issues before they present them to you
  • Employees realizing that you want their recommendations from them because that's their job as you see it
  • The opportunity to discuss issues collaboratively so that the input of both employee and manager is highly valued
  • You having more time to manage because employees are doing their jobs in full
  • Development of employees who are confident that you value their input and expect them to contribute effectively to business success.

A Final Tip

Always confirm. After any discussion with employees always confirm the course of action that's been decided. Be as specific as possible. No "We'll look ats". Say, "I'll write to... Jack will... Mary will... And the group will review the situation by the end of next week. We'll meet again next Monday at 10.00 am here to check progress."


Keep asking the "right" questions. Ensure that your staff know that you'll continue to ask. When that happens the quality of your staff communications will improve beyond belief.

Leon Noone helps managers in small-medium business to improve on-job staff performance without training courses. His ideas are quite unconventional. Read his free Special Report "49 Practical Tips for Removing Employee Apathy, Aggravation And Resistance In Your Business". Simply visit and download your free copy now.

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

Rate this Article

Article Tags:

Small Medium Business


Staff Communication


Problem Solving With Staff


Effective Questioning

In India, employment opportunities are set to grow by a good margin in the coming year, a phase which was started in the turn of the second decade of the 21st century. organisation, candidates with

By: Sarkariexam l Business > Careers Employment l April 01, 2013 lViews: 11715

Sometimes it is amazing to see that certain jobs can precipitate huge turnouts in the recruitment drives. It is as if thousands of people were waiting for the vacancy advertisements and the moment

By: Sarkariexam l Business > Careers Employment l December 30, 2012 lViews: 690

In recent times, jobs in healthcare segments have grown tremendously. It is anticipated that this growth curve will continue for the times to come. Various factors are responsible for this

By: Sarkariexam l Business > Career Advice l December 27, 2012 lViews: 449

Are you in a dilemma whether to choose web based CRM or not? If yes, don’t worry. You aren’t the sole person having this doubt.There are numerous firms trying to make out whether investing in a

By: Reneta Vasileva l Business > Customer Service l December 23, 2012 lViews: 410

If you think about it you will realize the fact that each business has its own set of risks that are involved in it.The trade secrets that you have and the information related to the business is what

By: brumbrum1 l Business > Risk Management l December 23, 2012 lViews: 264

As the time is changing, concierge management services are now growing despite the slowing economies of the world. The main reason of it is the need that is highly specific to the people who like to

By: willsmith10 l Business > Management l December 23, 2012 lViews: 334

If you run a business and you want to try and encourage your employees to pay more mind to their health and fitness there are many routes that you could go down. A lot of the time, those working in

By: Alan Trotterl Business > Workplace Communicationl October 25, 2012 lViews: 203

The workplace is your second home. In fact, some of you probably spend more time at work than you do at home. You are indeed fortunate if you have the opportunity to work in a job which you find

By: Myron Curryl Business > Workplace Communicationl June 14, 2012 lViews: 235

As the manager of a bank or other financial institution, you relay on strong communication and computers to keep information secure and transactions and other operations simple. Even a small-town

By: Kathryn Livelyl Business > Workplace Communicationl June 13, 2012 lViews: 220

Choosing positive words is an an important aspect of effective workplace communication. While great communication skills are essential for leaders, they are also necessary for employees. Read this

By: Harriet Meyersonl Business > Workplace Communicationl June 12, 2012 lViews: 189

Communication is important - it's actually vital to the operation of any good business, which is why various improvements have been made in this regard for a long time now. If you want to ensure that

By: Jesse M Nathaniell Business > Workplace Communicationl June 11, 2012 lViews: 221

Staff meetings have a bad reputation. They are often seen as a waste of time. The same issues come up, over and over again. Problems are never resolved. The same people dominate the discussion. The

By: Larry Wengerl Business > Workplace Communicationl June 07, 2012 lViews: 240

Do you trust your staff completely? Does lack of trust bring management stress? Or do you: Sleep well? Relax easily? Switch off readily? If you do, read no further. This article's not for you.

By: Leon Noonel Business > Managementl June 14, 2012 lViews: 188

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus