When the employees you manage encounter challenges or outright crises in their jobs, they turn to you as a manager for help. Your automatic reaction may be to jump in with a list of next steps and solutions, but take a moment to think before you do this.
If you take over the situation and manage the problem-solving process, what will your employees learn? Will they develop the skills they need to be effective leaders? Is this the best method of performance management? It may be faster in the short-term to handle a problem yourself, but taking the time for coaching and mentoring is a better long-term investment.
Instead of acting immediately to fix a problem, learn how to ask the right questions to empower your employees to develop their own leadership and problem-solving skills.
Tips for Asking Performance Management Questions
Make them open-ended.
The best questions can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Ask your employees questions that make them think analytically and see the problem from different angles. For example, “Why do you think Y resulted from X?” or “What are some possible solutions that would address challenge Z?”
Try to remove your own bias.
One of the most difficult parts of coaching is removing yourself from the equation. Remember that you’re not trying to get your employees to act the way you would act; you are trying to encourage them to think for themselves and find their own solutions. Don’t ask questions that have one right answer. For example, “What are some of the pros and cons to this idea?” is more effective than, “Don’t you think it would be better if you handled it this way…?”
An important part of performance management is demonstrating that you genuinely value your employees’ perspective on how to solve challenges. Ask questions and respectfully listen to and consider their responses. Follow up with more questions that show you were paying attention and are interested in what they have to say. For example, “Can you explain that idea to me a little more? What does it mean when you say…?”
Draw outside the lines.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions that challenge conventional wisdom or inspire people to come up with unorthodox ideas. Sometimes the best solutions come from looking at a problem from a completely different angle. For example, “If you had no time or budget restrictions, how would you solve this problem? How could you adapt that concept to stay within our current limits?”
What coaching questions do you ask to improve performance management in your employees?
Learn more about EDSI’s performance management resources.