Over and over again in our research, we find that the relationship between a team member and their leader or manager (aka: coach) is one of the most important variables that impacts performance. Understandably, we often are asked by leaders how they can be better relationship builders with their team. One of the easiest, most meaningful, and highly effective ways to go about this is by simply asking more questions.
Recently, at the EcSell Institute Coaching Effect Summit, I presented a breakout session that offers some guidance to leaders on ways to bring questions into their coaching situations. Specifically, these questions are ideas that team leaders can bring to their interactions with their team members with the intention of getting to know individuals in a more in-depth and personal way.
Before we jump into examples, I think it’s important to talk about why this personal connection, or why building a relationship, is important.
First of all, think about some of your most prized personal relationships. Are they people who talk mostly about themselves? My guess is that they are individuals who work to get to know you. They want to hear what you have to say. They care about the things that are important to you. They ask questions intended to let you share information that you care about and value.
Your team members feel the same way. They hold their relationship with you at a higher level when you make a purposeful attempt to get to know them in a meaningful way. (Tweet This) When we ask questions of others, and truly listen to the responses, we communicate to others that we care about them, that their voice matters, and that they have a story worth hearing.
In other words, we build a relationship of trust and personal connection when we ask people about their life and their experiences. Additionally, the responses they give can help inform you about how best to go about coaching them. When you know someone as a unique individual, you better understand how to coach them as a unique individual. (Tweet This) You can learn more about coaching to the mindset, not skill set, of your team members in this blog.
The following are a some examples of questions that can help build a stronger relationship in your next one-to-one meeting with a team member:
- What’s the best thing that’s happened in your week/month at work/home?
- What are you currently watching on Netflix?
- What’s made you laugh recently?
- What’s holding you back from performing at a higher level?
- Describe your role to me. (I know this isn’t really a question, but hearing someone describe their role to you in their own words can be indescribably insightful)
- What do you want to learn next?
- What’s something I don’t know that is helping or hurting your success/performance?
- What’s something new you learned last week?
- If you had to pick a different name, what would it be and why?
- How would you describe what went wrong?
- What information can help us get stronger?
Get 50+ more ideas and questions like these here.
As a side note, these types of questions can be useful even with the people or team members with whom we already have a relationship with. Keep in mind that no matter how strong the relationship, there is still opportunity to build rapport and trust with people we have known for years. (Tweet This)
So, get out there and start asking questions and hearing all the informative, inspiring, and relationship-building responses your team has to share with you. If you have other examples of questions you have found effective in building a stronger relationship with a team member, share them in the comments below. Here are 50+ ideas we came up with: