One of the smartest things you can do for your development as a leader is to gain a real understanding of how your employees view you as a leader. The only way to do that is to ask. Here are several questions to ask them, preferably anonymously so they feel free to be completely honest. Consider using an online survey tool, or go old school and set out a locked box where they can insert filled out evaluations.
The goal is to get more than “Yes” or “No” answers. The more they share, the more insight you gain. Ask these questions:
What do I expect of you at work? (List at least three expectations)
If employees don’t truly understand your expectations, they can never meet them.
In what areas are you excelling? What areas do you need to improve?
If you are offering regular, informal feedback, this question should be easy to answer.
Do you have the resources, training, tools and guidance you need to meet your job requirements? What are you missing?
If employee performance is not meeting expectations, it could be related to any of those things. Pinpointing issues (within your control) can often be the quickest way to get everyone up to satisfactory levels.
How often did I praise or recognize you over the past week?
If you haven’t done it even once, morale, motivation and performance issues likely start with you.
Do you know how your daily work contributes to the company’s mission?
Knowing their work matters gives them purpose on the job, and that is critical to keeping them focused and committed to meeting expectations.
Do you feel I want you to grow and develop as an employee? Why or why not?
Study after study shows that employees, especially younger ones, expect career growth and advancement opportunities. If you aren’t offering it, they may not stick around for long.
Do I listen to and act on the feedback you provide me? (Provide instances)
If employees don’t have a voice, especially when it comes to improving their own working conditions, they will become demoralized and may even stop caring.
You have the answers. Now what?
Your employees’ answers will tell you exactly what YOU need to work on. Schedule one-on-ones as soon as possible to clear up confusion and offer feedback. Ultimately, it’s your job to provide your team with the goals, tools, training and guidance required to meet (and exceed) the expectations of the job, but you also play a key role in helping them find meaning in the work, connecting their daily routine to the mission of the organization, and empowering them to make the workplace a better environment for everyone.
Ask these questions, but most important, accept the feedback with grace, no matter how negative it is or difficult it is to read. If you do and you act on it to make positive changes, you can become an outstanding leader.