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"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt". Attributed variously to such historical heavyweights as Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, this quote has formed the bedrock for the doctrine of 'keeping quiet and knowing your place' for at least a century and a half.
But of course, this is no way to live. No one wants a workforce of 'yes' men and women, who simply nod their heads and agree when asked if they have understood their duties and responsibilities. Instead, the gold standard should be an engaged team, actively ready to voice their concerns and share their wisdom at every turn.
This is the only way to boost productivity and to improve ROI, but how do we bring this situation about? The answer is quite simple - by asking questions.
Asking the right questions can make a huge difference to your employees' experience of your organisation. Be sincere when you ask, and demonstrate that the answers you receive are important to you and to the company. Ask these questions on a regular basis, achieving an ongoing framework of development, in terms of morale, output level, and the overall quality of the work your teams do every day.
To be an effective manager, you need to be asking questions and acting on the feedback you receive. Here are five questions to ask your employees to boost those all-important efficiency, workplace engagement, and employee productivity levels.
Your team needs to know that they are progressing, that they are moving forward towards a better situation. Phrasing the question in this way demonstrates goal attainment and a system of development which increases personal satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment.
The answer you receive will give you an insight into the professional priorities of the team member in question, and also into the way in which they approach their work. This provides a handy framework for further development - both on a personal and on an organisational level - in the future.
A well-run organisation is not an endless hit parade of smashed targets and personal achievements. There are challenges, too, and these challenges must be overcome in the right way. The only way you can identify these challenges, and then work to surmount them, is by asking about them directly.
By asking this question, you are opening a problem-solving discourse. This gives you, the management team, and your workers the right footing from which to solve the problem and bring about a better situation, laying the groundwork for enhanced workplace productivity.
A workplace needs to be a democracy and should be an environment in which the free exchange of ideas is possible. Approaching your teams with this question demonstrates that this is indeed the case within your organisation. The result is increased employee engagement and better levels of morale.
This approach also turns your team into an information resource, just waiting to be tapped. Successful businesses are those who can step away from the idea of 'data flowing downwards', trickling down to those lower on corporate hierarchy. Different perspectives are always valid, and they can be critical to your organisation's performance going forward. Often, those on the front line of operations have the most valuable insight of all.
There may be new market trends that you have missed or best practices which have not yet been adopted; the simple question of 'what could we do differently?' can unlock this.
The importance of this question stems from the idea we touched on above: that upper management do not necessarily know best. When it comes to resource availability and allocation, it is your teams who will benefit the most from getting it right, and so these are the people you need to be asking.
Opening up a dialogue in this way has additional benefits. It also enables your team members to better understand the challenges associated with providing resources in this way. This helps them to temper their expectations and form more realistic ideas for how management can support them in their efforts.
Better mutual understanding between the different levels of your organisation leads to better resource management and optimised productivity across the board.
Personal connections are important in the world of business. Your team need to feel that you have their best interests at heart and that you generally care about their situation. Fostering a personal connection is easy; simply reach out and ask what you can do to help your team members on an individual basis.
Personal knowledge is important here. If you have heard about a family situation, or something else outside of work, that a member of your team might be going through, ask about it. As long as you ask in a tactful and sincere manner, you have shown that the bond between the different levels is real and it is personal.
No one wants to feel left out or forgotten about. Fostering a personal connection in this way increases morale and will have a positive effect on your workplace culture.
Want to learn more about boosting productivity and creating an open, dynamic workplace culture? Need the software and resources necessary to achieve this? Get in touch with the Express Virtual Meetings Team today.