The "magic question" gets answers you can trust from your employees

When it comes to getting honest answers from employees, on any number of subjects, many business leaders tell me it's a challenge.

This obviously speaks to individual relationship issues along with trust issues in the workplace.

But, I've found that when approached the right way as I outlined in these previous articles (buy-in builder, idea instigators) you can get highly valuable answers.

When asked the right way your employees will give you the straight dope.

After applying the buy-in builder  steps your team members will be open to providing high-quality answers when you ask for constructive feedback as suggested here, and when you ask what I call my "Magic Question."

It's a "Magic Question" because it comes from a perspective that most business leaders don't use and employees rarely experience.

The perspective is from that of the employees' experience on the job.

The question comes across as empathetic toward the employees' experience on the job and seeks to understand one thing and one thing only, although it can come with multiple answers.

When a business chooses to ask this question in the right way with the right mindset, the answers that come can be magical.

The question is simply this:

What is getting in your way of doing an even better job?"

Most employees experience much different questions from their bosses and feel as if they are under attack or their performance is being questioned.

This question, although on the surface seems as though it is asking about how the employee can perform on the job better, it is actually disguised as constructive feedback to the boss.

The implication in this question is two fold:

1) That the employee is already doing an adequate or acceptable job and is not under any challenge, and

2) There is something that the company overall, company leadership, their immediate boss, or the work environment is doing or not doing that is limiting their ability to be "even" better.

This #2 is where the constructive feedback comes from.

The question, although couched as though it is trying to improve the team member's performance, really is mostly about constructive feedback for the boss,  company, and work environment.

Positioned this way most employees will be open to sharing the most immediate things that are their biggest frustrations and obstacles to being more productive and profitable.

In my experience of asking this question in hundreds of companies is that your team members will share what we call "low hanging fruit." Daily annoyances and frustrations that people are tolerating just to try to get their job done.

These are the things you need to clean up to pave the way for a more positive, more productive, and even more financially profitable company work environment.

Try it and let me know how it goes. 

Now, if you'd like to transform some of the answers you received from complaints to action, read the next article in this series here.

'til next time...

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