If you’re the type of manager who doesn’t talk to your employees that often, chances are your employees haven’t formed a strong bond with you either. This is unfortunate because the better the bond you have with your team, the happier they’ll be showing up to work each day.
According to our research, the number one thing employees like about their jobs is the people they work with. As the boss, you might not be able to become best friends with everyone on your team. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get to know each of your employees on a personal level — at least to a certain extent.
Keep in mind that many workers don’t quit their jobs — they quit their bosses. That being the case, it’s in your best interest to make sure you have positive relationships with every member of your team.
One recent study revealed that 93% of workers believe being able to trust their immediate bosses is one of the biggest factors that influences employee happiness. Despite that, half of employees don’t trust their supervisors.
Getting your company to the next level starts with having a team that trusts you. With that in mind, here are 20 questions you can ask your staff to get to know them better:
PS: Check out the Definitive Guide to Employee Engagement
01. Who inspires you?
Maybe it’s a musician or artist. Maybe it’s a politician. Maybe it’s a family member. Whatever the case may be, an honest answer to this question should reveal some crucial details about your employee. You may be able to use this information to figure out how to be a better manager to each member of your team.
Don’t forget that inspiration plays a huge role in employee engagement. When your employees are inspired to reach their full potential, great things can happen. If you’re looking for extra ways to motivate your employees, check out these 15 inspirational TED Talks.
02. What was the best concert you ever attended?
You might find out you have the same taste in music. Even better, you might have even been at the same show. Or you could discover musicians that’ll change your life.
Studies show that playing music at work can increase productivity. If you find out that a number of your employees like the same artist, maybe it’s time to start blasting their music on Friday afternoons.
03. Where’s your favorite place in the world?
This question should help you glean insight into your employee’s travel habits. You might even get convinced to visit a new place yourself.
If you find out that hardly any of your employees have traveled much, it may be time to rethink your vacation policy. Being exposed to new cultures helps employees become more well-rounded, after all. This is why one company based in Sweden gives it workers an extra $2,300 each year (as long as they use that money to travel).
04. If you could be any animal, which would you be?
Stay away from the lions. Nurture the bunny rabbits.
If you find out that every single one of your employees wants to be a golden retriever, it may be time to institute a pet policy and let your workers bring their furry friends to the office once in a while.
05. What’s the last book you read?
You may discover you’re both obsessed with the same obscure author. That’s a connection that can’t be shattered.
You may also find out about new authors you never knew existed. Or that one of your more introverted employees is impressively familiar with the works of Eastern philosophers. And another is obsessed with reading humorists.
Bottom line, finding out what books people like to read can provide unique insight into what makes them tick.
06. What are you passionate about?
Their answer could change the way you think about them in the organization. Maybe a salesperson, for example, is really passionate about graphic design. You won’t know until you ask.
There’s no rule that says salespeople aren’t able to whip up infographics for their company’s marketing efforts. Find out what your employees like doing and let them work on pertinent pet projects at least every once in a while. It’s a surefire way to increase engagement.
07. What’s your favorite movie?
A comedy? A drama? A horror movie? Ask them why they like their favorite movie. Get to know them on a human level.
As an added bonus, you might find out about films you never knew existed. Not only will watching them help you connect with your team on a personal level, you might also learn a leadership trick or two.
08. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
One of your teammates might have climbed Mount Everest. Another one might have gone bungee jumping in Austria. Someone else might have hitchhiked around South America.
Find out whether you’re still the craziest person in the office — or whether you should do your best to avoid certain employees.
09. What are you currently watching on Netflix?
Save yourself some time. Let your employees tell you what you should binge watch this weekend.
It’s another way to establish some commonalities that are unrelated to work.
10. What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Are you aware of how your entire team spends their time at work? Probably not.
Be honest: You can’t be everywhere at once. You’re busy enough as it is. It can be hard enough to figure out how to manage your own responsibilities. Keeping tabs on everything that your team is doing? Next to impossible.
Not only will asking this question clue you in to each of the contributions the members of your team are making, it can also provide the groundwork for some well-deserved employee recognition.
For example, imagine one of your employees is combing through your image archive to clean up file names and delete duplicates. It’s important work that can often go unnoticed.
11. Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?
Will it be a celebrity? A family member? An animal? The question is a great conversation starter at the very least.
12. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
If someone were to ask you this question, how long would it take for you to answer it?
Asking this question should get your employees thinking. There’s a good chance you’ll learn some interesting tidbits about each person who answers it. Maybe the best meal they had was at a quiet restaurant in Rome. Maybe it was with their significant other on the night they fell in love.
Whatever you do, just don’t ask before you’ve eaten lunch.
13. If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go?
Maybe you’ve never heard of the place before. Maybe you find out about an amazing hike that’s a 25-minute drive from your office.
Once the conversation is over, head to Wikipedia and begin planning a trip of your own.
14. What are some of your pet peeves?
Your employees might tell you they hate the phrase “case of the Mondays.” Go back to the drawing board and think of another way to say it.
Worst case, by finding out what your employees don’t like, you can figure out what you can do to be perceived as a less annoying manager. It’s up to you whether you try to change your behavior accordingly.
15. What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?
If you find out a worker is a virtuoso guitar player, ask them to serenade the staff on a Friday afternoon (if they’re up to it). Maybe an employee is a fantastic chef. Encourage that person to whip up a snack for the team (again, if they’re up to it).
At the very least, this question provides you the perfect segue to showcase your own secret talents. It’s okay to brag about your sick yo-yo skills.
16. Which four individuals, living or dead, would you like to eat dinner with the most?
It’s a classic question that should give you a clear look into your employees’ personalities. It’ll also serve as a great springboard for engaging conversation.
17. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Once you have their answer, search the web diligently to learn what their personality color means. Manage them accordingly.
The answers to this question may also inspire you to paint the walls of your office certain colors. If a bunch of people on your team like the color blue, for example, it might make sense to repaint that depressing musty yellow conference room.
18. What’s the most helpful way for you to get feedback?
Everyone works differently. Some folks like receiving negative feedback, so they can improve. Others are more fragile.
The only way you’ll find out which way individual employees prefer to receive feedback is by asking them directly. To take your business to the next level, you need to learn how to approach your staff most effectively.
If you’re worried that your employees might not be honest with you, use pulse surveys to let them share their thoughts anonymously.
19. What is your favorite family tradition?
Sunday night dinners. Summer vacations to the same beach each year. Watching four movies on Christmas. Playing Apples to Apples every time the family gets together.
Your employees might have some pretty awesome family traditions. Maybe ones you’d even want your own family to adopt.
Who knows? You may even get inspired to launch a similar company-specific tradition.
20. Who is your least favorite superhero?
Asking people which superhero they’d like to be for a day is overrated. Finding out who their least favorite superhero is what really matters.
Find out which caped crusader you should try hardest to avoid channeling.
- Employee Engagement Surveys: The 20 Questions You Need to Ask
- 5 Unexpectedly Helpful Questions for Your Employee Engagement Survey