One Question Every Manager Should Ask Employees

Radhika Sivadi

3 min read ·


manageremployeesEmployees go to work with the intention of doing a good job but managers are often the reason they don't. We sometimes put employees in situations where they don't have the resources to perform well and they become frustrated when they are not given the necessary tools and training to complete job assignments.

Successful managers have learned to support employees by advocating for them and helping them remove the barriers that hinder productivity. They do this by asking one important question. This one question can reveal the obstacles that employees face that only the manager can help to overcome. So what is the question?

How can I help you?

This question demonstrates the manager's commitment to serving the employee and their intent to help resolve issues. This question also reveals employee challenges and issues that only a manager can help fix.

When employees answer this question, they reveal work issues that need to be resolved and often answer the question with this response.

You can help me with:

1. Broken or outdated equipment – Employees need to have functioning equipment to perform job responsibilities and nothing slows worker productivity like faulty equipment. It is important to budget dollars to update and replace equipment before it becomes an emergency.
2. Inadequate training – There is always a learning curve when employees are performing new tasks, or using new computer software, so it is important to provide the training that expedites the learning process.
3. Resolve conflict – Conflict within a work group not only affects morale, causes undue stress but it also slows the work process. Managers should be cognizant of conflict and available to help resolve interpersonal issues that hinder productivity.
4. Unmet customer expectations – Dealing with unsatisfied customers can be a source of stress for employees. Managers should have a customer service strategy and help resolve issues that affect the customer experience.
5. Broken processes – Internal work processes need to be efficient to allow for productivity and good systems to support a positive customer experience. Managers should partner with employees to understand internal work processes and identify ways to create operational efficiency.
6. Work-space setup – Managers need to provide a work-space that is comfortable and fosters productivity. No one wants to sit on a broken chair or in a poorly designed work-space.
7. Barriers to completing goals – There are often internal barriers that hinder completion of employee goals. It is the manager's responsibility to help employees identify what those barriers are and assist with removing them.
8. Meeting deadlines – Meeting deadlines is how goals are accomplished but when an employee has a problem with meeting a deadline they sometimes need help with pushing a task to completion.
9. Prioritize job responsibilities – Time management and prioritization is something that we all deal with and a manager should be available to help employees figure out what tasks are the most important and how to prioritize conflicting job responsibilities.

Managers that can focus on their employees and ask the question, how can I help you, will not only make employees feel valued, but will also facilitate the process for achieving better results.

Patricia Lotich (twitter: @patricialotich) is a small business coach and founder of The Thriving Small Business.

Radhika Sivadi