As a remote leader, getting feedback from your team can be a tricky thing. You have to build enough trust & rapport to encourage honest feedback. And even then, you still need to ask the right questions, AND learn to ask them virtually to your remote employees. You can’t really take them out to coffee and have a tête-à-tête!
At Kaapi, we have now worked with 100+ senior leaders, and 2300+ employees to analyse the kind of questions that work well. Here is a list of top 11, that are guaranteed to get you good feedback from your team. Feel free to add these to your personal 1 on 1 questions library. And remember, the best employee questions have these in common:
- They are specific, not vague
- They are contextual to your team and today’s topics
- When in doubt, always be kind - try to get feedback on your strengths, and leave weaknesses for later.
Q1 - How’s life outside work? All good?
While this question is not specific enough to give you great insights, it is a GREAT conversation starter. A good way to set up the context of introspection. And to show that you care. When in doubt, you can always ask this question. And since remote work can sometimes decrease the amount of personal bonding between people, this question helps bring people together.
Q2 - What is 1 thing we did really well in the past 3 months? What could we have done better as a team last month?
If you want to elicit critical feedback, a good approach is to phrase it in a positive way. Or start with the positives first. If you feel that a team member isn’t comfortable enough to give you negative feedback (can happen for new managers or teams transitioning into remote work) as a leader, you can always ask for feedback on the team.
Q3 - Is there something that you want to focus on; but haven’t had time to accomplish yet?
This question is guaranteed to get you good feedback responses from most employees! Your remote team depends on you to remove roadblocks at work. And this question also allows employees to tell you about their career aspirations and dreams.
Q4 - What would you like to discuss in our next 1-on-1 meeting?
Put the ball in their court! Instead of assuming, ask what is bothering them. This simple freedom will also make them a little more accountable about the whole feedback process.
Q5 - What is the most exciting thing about work for you these days?
Feedback doesn’t have to be all negative. Knowing what is working, and what to double down can be as important. Everyone loves talking about things that excite them. Give them the mic, let them climb on the stage and tell you their story! A silence on this question can be a potential flag for you to fix.
Q6 - Are you facing any challenges right now that I can help with?
You might be asking this question during daily stand ups too; but asking it as a more generic feedback will give you better answers. Not just transactional challenges around tasks for the day. Most responses to this question will fall into these categories:
- Employee needs extra resources from an external team
- Employee is struggling with their current project
- Or maybe they don’t have clarity on their current goals
Q7 - Was there a recent team discussion where you did not get to share your thoughts?
This is great for introverted team members! You are encouraging someone to share views that they might not have been able to share in a large group setting. If you see that this question is popular with a lot of people in your team, your meeting style clearly needs to change!
Q8 - To fasten your career growth, what is #1 skill you want to have by this time next year?
As a I have said before, the single most important thing you can do to build trust with your team is to actively help them build a career path. Ask for their dreams, and show them a path to get there. Help them upskill themselves. Connect with mentors, and much more! This is your one question to get started.
Q9 - As a leader, what should I start doing? What should I stop doing, and what should I continue?
A simple question, but with multiple layers to it. This one is guaranteed to give you a holistic picture of yourself as a leader - of both strengths and weaknesses.
Q10 - Are you proud of how we treat our customers?
Another crowd favourite! People love giving their opinions on customer support. If you are a senior leader, I would also advise you to ask this from your cross-teams! Sales people will have a completely different answer to this vs tech team. Collect a company wide survey to help you build a great company culture!
Q11 - Did I give you actionable feedback in the last 2 months?
This is my absolute favourite 1 on 1 meeting question, and deserves to be on top for one single reason. It removes any blindsides you have as a leader, sets up trust and gives you an invitation to start providing feedback to the team member. Without that context, giving critical feedback out of the blue can sometimes backfire.
And that’s it! If you can only do one thing to build a good employee engagement & feedback culture, it should be a way to ask these 11 questions regularly.
Great resources to read on this topic