• Sue Adams

Questions you should be asking your direct reports

If you're concerned that your employees are watching the door, it's time to start having critical career-defining talks. In this post, we have highlighted five important questions to ask your direct reports so you can better understand how they feel about their jobs:

1. What do you need from me to be successful?

Your employees are hired because they have something to offer your company. They have the skills, expertise and experience necessary for the role you have filled. What they may not know is what's expected of them or how to deal with obstacles that come up on the job. It's important to be clear with your direct reports so they know what they need to do to maintain their success with your company.

2. How can I support you in being successful?

Even if your employees have the skills necessary for their roles, they may not have all of the resources they need at their disposal to be successful. If you know that your employees are lacking certain resources, then you need to step up and help them gain access to those resources. Without the right tools, they can't do their jobs well no matter how hard they try.

3. What would make your job easier?

Employees aren't mind readers -- it's often not until something goes wrong that they realize there's something they can do to make their jobs easier. You should regularly ask your direct reports what issues or obstacles are causing them difficulty at work and what you can do to help them overcome those problems.

4. What are the greatest challenges you face in doing your job?

This may seem like a simple question, but it's one you should regularly ask your direct reports. Often, they are so focused on the problems at hand that they don't take time to consider what issues may be keeping them up at night. If your employees are stressed about something that doesn't appear to be directly related to their roles or day-to-day responsibilities, you'll need to find out what's really causing them stress.

5. What can I do to make this process easier for you?

A lot of the time, your employees don't like confrontation or delivering bad news, so they struggle with telling you when there are issues in their roles. By asking your direct reports about processes that are causing them difficulty, you can make their lives easier by streamlining those processes. This will ultimately help your employees do a better job and even increase the efficiency of your business as well.


6. What are some of the things that we aren't currently doing at work that you believe we should?

Reinvention is constantly key for businesses, and the only way you can innovate is if your employees are willing to provide their insight about what needs to change. Ask your direct reports what they think should be done differently or better at work. You may be surprised by some of the ideas that come back to you -- and those ideas just might open the door to a better future for your company.


7. What can we do to increase your engagement at work?

Your employees may not always be as invested in their jobs as you'd like them to be. To ensure that everyone is on the same page and more committed to their roles, ask your direct reports if anything needs to change in order for them to be more engaged at work. If you take the time to address your employees' feelings and remedy any specific problems before they become major issues, you'll save yourself a lot of stress in the long run.