Languages of communication with employees
(Smart questions are the key to communicating with your employees)
Leadership in our time is said to be an art and a craft of creativity rather than a purely managerial practice. The ability to communicate effectively with employees (effective communication) can be considered the most important arts of leadership; and communication itself is professionalism, and when it is linked with effectiveness, it turns into an art that focuses on understanding others, influencing them, and releasing their abilities. In addition, it makes the performance of the actors on stage harmonized to present the scene strongly with the highest and strongest impact on the audience.
Here, I do not mean by communicating that the leader exercises the top-down directing and orders, but I mean the dynamic process that takes place between the two parties so that the leader knows how to listen and how to speak to other employees. How to listen to what the employee says verbally and what he does not say verbally, listens to the employee's silence as well as his words, listens to the employee's emotions and their change, listens to the disparities in the employee's performance and knows whether the motivator is present or whether there is a problem before the employee talks about it. This is in terms of listening, in terms of speaking, the genius leader speaks tactfully, and uses the employee’s terminology and not his own. He does not speak in a lordly manner, but he should rather smile when he speaks in a friendly manner that makes the other feel safe and trigger the desire to listen to him.
With good listening, friendly and interactive talk, communication takes place perfectly, and needs only to be added that effectiveness that makes it a creative image of fine human art.
Let me give you one of the most important secrets of effectiveness that have made the most unique and the most famous leaders of our modern era.
The secret lies in asking smart questions. The questions themselves are the keys to learning and finding facts. They stimulate the brain to examine and explore things automatically. For that, if you use them effectively while communicating with the employee, you will not be making a productive employee only, but you are also bringing his energies and loyalty to their fullest to your organization. The term smart questions used here implies a lot, considering that there are leaders who actually ask questions, but their effectiveness can be far less as they do ask the questions in the wrong way; when the question is asked, it has two conditions: it should be positive and motivating, and it should focus on reaching the desired result, solution, and goal.
Examples of common effective questions:
- To what extent do you find your job duties clear to you? How can this clarity be increased?
Through my work as a coach, I found that a considerable number of employees are suffering from the lack of clarity of their job tasks; and the employee may find a psychological barrier that prevents him from asking for clarification of his tasks, and it may reach a feeling of pressure in a period that may eventually lead to leaving the job and the organization.
This question is deemed one of the safety valves to retain employees.
Some questions which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: Do you know your tasks? Are you able to understand your tasks?
- What are the most beautiful tasks you see in your job?
With this question, you are actually helping your employee in distinguishing and classifying the job tasks. In addition, this question also serves you in directing the tasks according to the psychological compatibility, inclinations, and aptitudes of the employees. In sum, this enhances employee effectiveness.
Some questions which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: Are your job duties appropriate? Why are some of them inappropriate?
- What good things did the other members of the team do?
This question is vital and important to raise the level of engagement and harmony in the work team; and one of the forms of this participation is to pay attention to the good things that the teamwork achieves and to recognize the value of the team.
Some questions which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: Why aren’t you open to the team? Why aren’t you participating in teamwork?
- What is the thing/things I am doing that hinders the productivity of our team?
This type of feedback is very useful for the leader, as he early notices his practices that can hinder the progress of the team, in addition to the positive impression he implants in the hearts of employees that he is open to them and that he can acceptance criticism posively.
Some questions which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: Why do you consider me a block to the team productivity? What are my flaws?
- How can you contribute to the success of the project?
The purpose of this question is to raise the level of individual responsibility in generating results and enhance the employee's awareness of his vital role in the project while setting off creative thinking and innovative solutions by employees.
Some questions which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: Why aren’t you actively contributing to the project? Why are you absent frequently?
- How does this work (your job) help you reach your personal goal?
It is very useful for the goals of the organization to support the goals of the individual. The more the employee's vision is compatible with the vision of the organization and follows the same path as that one of the organization, the more the employee feels a sense of belonging and enthusiasm.
Some questions which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: Don't you agree with me that you should focus on the goals of the paying business and forget about your personal goals?
- What good happened in your job this week or this month?
Asking this question makes you able to discover the successes that can be invested to reach additional successes. It also further gives you an opportunity to learn from them, besides that focusing on the successes generates other successes.
Some questions which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: What are the bad things that have happened in your job? Why did you fail?
- What challenges are you faced with? What is standing in your way to success?
This question is the important step to being deeply aware of the action plan, followed by the important question ‘What can you do to overcome these challenges ?’; then another supportive question ‘What can I do for you to support you through it?’
Some questions/ discourse which are similar to this one but they do not generate the same good results: Let me show you how to overcome these difficulties.
- If you owned this company, what would you do differently?
It's nice for employees to contribute with their suggestions for improvement as if they own or manage the organization. Asking such a question is much likely to generate amazing results and great suggestions.
With that said, you will notice with me now, dear leader, that through these questions you are transforming from practicing leadership with guidance to leadership with empowerment (coaching)!
You can imagine how effective the impact of these questions will be and how they will create a strong functional relationship that is at the heart of productivity and goals achievement.
Perhaps what supports the success of this leadership practice is that it should be as pure as possible from prejudices, as those judgments have always been a psychological barrier that unconsciously disturbs that session with the employee ; and thus, and it would be greater and much beneficial to get rid of them.
Here are two things that will help you stop or reduce your judgment:
To recognize that we are all like the moon, we have two sides, a dark side and a bright side. The employee may pass through times of low mood or emotional balance; we should not classify him or judge him based on those matters. Circumstances may match in such a way that we only see the dark side of that employee, and if we look from an impartial perspective, we will inevitably discover that bright side in his performance and personality.
You should do what we call thought substitution. This process is considered an effective skill that can be implemented by replacing or balancing the negative prejudgment about the employee with another positive judgment, even if you do not see it, but build it on the assumption. You can say to yourself before you sit with your employee: ‘What a great employee he will be when we communicate well together, and what a great leader I will be when I discover his strengths!’
There are a lot of effective leadership discussions that can be practiced with employees. These leadership techniques and awareness generate significant results once you reconsider how you communicate based on the concepts of coaching.
Through my experience in many organizations, I found it useful for the leader to take a specialized course in the “leadership coaching” to enable him to ask effective questions, and to practice practical experiences in this direction that enhance awareness and understanding of smart questions and how to develop them.
Finally, what is the leadership workshop that you will be keen to join as soon as possible? I assure you that the workshop you choose will make sure that building smart questions is one of its most important axes.