Influence Employee Performance with Two Simple Questions

The fastest way to influence an employee is to consciously seek input and then listen to what they have to say. When you know what they are thinking (about projects, about the job, about customers, about the team) you can better support their performance.

Asking questions is one of the most powerful performance management skills you can master. When you ask the right question and wait for the answer, you will gain useful information that can be used to influence the employee’s performance.

Here’s a challenge: Spend at least three minutes per day in a conversation with an employee where you only ask questions and listen. Don’t interject. Don’t interrupt. Don’t share your perspective. Just ask and listen.

This will be a long three minutes if you ask closed, pointed questions. Instead, consciously ask open-ended, thought provoking questions, and leave your conversations with more information that you started. You’ll also enhance the goodwill between you and the employee.

If you are wondering where to start, try asking just two simple questions:

1. How do you feel? This is a great question to start with because you can tailor it to the person and the situation. For example, “How do you feel about the new process for managing the budget? How do you feel about the new organizational structure? How do you feel the project is coming along?” Just start by asking how they are feeling.

2. What do you need? By asking what the employee needs, you open the dialogue to possibilities. This easy question can be adapted to any situation. For example, “What do you need to complete this task on time? What do you need to feel comfortable with our approach? What do you need to be satisfied with the outcome?” Seeking input about what the other person needs allows you to learn about how you can help while letting them know that you have an interest in their success.

So, give it a try. Just three minutes a day asking only questions. I guarantee that you will see immediate results.

You can find more ways to engage employees in chapter seven of Painless Performance Conversations. If you don’t have your copy yet, you can order it here and follow along in subsequent E-Tips as we discuss some of the most powerful employee performance management tools on the planet.

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