What Questions Should You Be Asking Your Employees

Getting a new employee in the door (even if it’s virtual) is an exciting time—for the new hire, the manager and the organization as a whole. Often, supervisors are so eager to have the employee hit the ground running that they focus all their efforts on helping them adjust to the team and learning their particular roles—and, before they know it, the associate is a valuable part of the team’s success. But when the relationship between a manager and a direct report is so concentrated on team goals, employees run the risk of feeling like they’re just cogs in the wheel, without their individual contributions recognized and their personal and professional growth goals cultivated.

Both at the start of employment and throughout the employee lifecycle, managers should be checking in with their reports in a way that conveys confidence in their individual abilities and their capacity to grow, at the organization and in their broader careers. By investing in employee development in this way, managers can help inspire their employees to strive to reach the top of their potential while also bringing out their best to advance the company’s objectives.

Here are just a few of the questions supervisors can use to coax their talent to the next level:

  • Where do you see yourself in the next year (or three, or five years)? This conversation can give managers and supervisors insight into what motivates employees, what they think their strengths are and their perceptions of their future with the organization—all of which can become vital parts of the performance management process.
  • How does this role and/or the company align with your personal interests? Employees want to feel seen by their leaders, and this type of question can go a long way toward that sentiment. Managers should genuinely want to know what attracted the employee to the organization in order to maintain their engagement and ultimately retain them as employees.
  • What can I be doing to help you realize the goals you have for yourself? Apart from soliciting information from employees about their motivations and goals, supervisors should make it clear that they’re available to help employees reach those objectives. That can lay a strong foundation for a relationship between managers and employees built on trust, support and respect.
  • What are any problems or challenges you’ve faced as you work toward these goals? It’s important for managers to check in repeatedly with employees—not just during a formal annual review—and help them troubleshoot any obstacles.

Developing your talent from day one has never been more important. With competition for talent high and employers everywhere worried about the “Great Resignation,” HR leaders need to be focused on both bringing in the best people and ensuring they have a reason to stay. Younger workers especially—who have become the boldest in what they expect from their employers, especially after the shifts of the pandemic—will want to know that their employer, represented by their manager or supervisor, is committed to their growth. When employees can see a path for themselves at your company and receive consistent feedback from managers about their progress on that journey, they will be more invested in establishing a future with the organization.