Quentin Hafner

3 Simple Questions To Dramatically Elevate Engagement

The success of any organization (and family) is mostly dependent on the level of engagement of its people.

Strategy is great. Product development is great.  Vision is great. But without truly engaged people to make it all happen, things like strategy, product development and vision don’t go very far.

It’s all about being connected to the people.  

Keeping your people engaged, fulfilled, and motivated to go the extra mile carrying your vision forward.  

It’s no secret that companies with the highest levels of relationship health scores have happier employees, more productive employees, and dramatically outperform their competition.

Relationship Health Inside Organizations (and families) = Happy People = Performing People = Increased Profit.

But how do you grow relationship health inside the organization?  How do you keep your people highly-motivated, and in a head-space of wanting to go the extra mile for your vision? 

In this short blog, I want to share with you 3 Simple Questions To Dramatically Elevate Employee Engagement. These 3 Questions are critical to keeping your people authentically engaged, and ready to move mountains for you.   

Question #1: “How Are You Doing?”

This question might seem too simple at first glance, but there’s more to it.  When I work with leaders in organizational development, one of the first things we assess is how connected direct reports feel with their managers. We are assessing how well managers really connect to their people.  

And what I often find is that managers simply don’t really know how their people are doing.

We’ve been socialized to ask, “How are you?” as a social norm, but we often don’t go out of our way to know the truth behind that question, or we get too busy to really ask for the truth.  But to be an effective leader, we have to care enough to really want to know. Your people need that level of connection from you in order for them to really perform.  

On employee engagement surveys, one of the biggest factors that drives engagement is whether or not people feel like their leader truly cares about their well-being.  And the only way to do that is to simply ask in the most sincere way.

A simple, but effective way to really demonstrate our care is to simply stop what we’re doing, look someone in the eyes, and ask, “How are you really doing?”  And we listen attentively, empathically, and supportively to whatever someone has to say. As the cliché goes, no one is going to let you influence them until they believe you care about them. 

Make it a point to authentically and genuinely check-in with your people and see how they are really doing. Getting the most out of your people requires we take a sincere interest.

Question #2: “How Are We Doing?”

Similar to taking a pulse on how your people are really doing, we need to also keep a pulse on how the relationship between you and your people is going.  When we ask, “how are we doing?”, we’re not looking for a vague sense of how someone feels being part of the large organization, we are trying to get a sense of how they feel about you and the specific relationship with the leader. 

It can be a hard question to ask, especially if you worry the response won’t be favorable.  But ego and insecurities aside, we have to ask, or we’ll never know. And what we don’t know can’t be fixed.

Too often, relationship disconnection happens between a leader and someone on their team but the disconnection never gets resolved or attended to.  Time goes by, and the disconnection turns into apathy, and then apathy turns into active disengagement.  

Asking “How are we doing?” presents an opportunity to air grievances, tell the truth about frustrations, and discuss anything that might be getting in the way of the leader/direct relationship.  Without this question being asked, we risk even the smallest missteps that could have been easily resolved and repaired, turning into toxic relationship dynamics that undermine organizational health.

Question #3: “How Can I Help You?”

If you really want your people to give you their all, they need to know you are their biggest advocate, cheerleader, and champion for their individual success inside the organization. 

Too often, leaders get too busy and forget to check in with their people on what they need.  They can wrongly make the assumption that since there is no “squeaky wheel”, then everything is fine.   

The help we might offer someone through asking this question could be simple and practical such as, “I could use different hours for that particular meeting”, or it could be something more existential and meaningful like, “I’m not sure I’m in the right role and I want to consider other options inside the organization”.   

How Can I Help You?” is a question that communicates we care.  It communicates that we are in-tune and that we’re going out of our way to pay attention to the needs of those that keep us in business. It’s a powerful question that positions us as advocates.  And when people feel like they have an advocate, engagement goes way up. 

These 3 simple questions, when asked with consistency and sincerity, can dramatically improve relationship health inside an organization.  Many managers, not intentionally, get busy and forget that these questions are what matters most to keeping their people engaged, happy, productive, and performing at the highest level. 

Putting It Into Action

When coaching leaders on improving relational dynamics inside the organization, I generally encourage them to find a frequency to ask these 3 questions to their key-reports on a consistent basis.  The frequency will vary from organization and professional relationship, but as a good rule of thumb, I encourage people to ask these 3 questions on an every-6-week basis. 

Sometimes, these questions are only asked at annual reviews, if ever asked at all.  

And just in case you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of another cumbersome task, don’t lose heart. I’ve found that asking these questions generally in an authentic conversation doesn’t take more than 30-mintes.  And I know your key-reports are worth 30-minutes every 6 weeks. 

If you’d like to take a look at relationship health inside your organization that can result in dramatic improvements to your bottom-line, visit here to learn more about the consulting services I offer.


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