Three Questions Every Manager Should Be Asking, Every Week

For a happier workplace, here are three questions every manager should be asking, on the regular.

There’s a lot of new technology that companies are adopting to help employees plan their weeks, plan who they want to collaborate with, where they’re going to sit — book space where they need it, and be intentional about it.

But beyond that technology, the role of the manager or your leader is changing. It’s no longer 360º performance reviews twice per year. Today’s leaders are becoming more like mentors, or coaches. So, it’s critical for their team members to feel confident enough to go up to them and talk about what we’re increasingly recognizing as “the employee experience.”

Forethinking companies are now adopting a new ways of measuring that experience — and here’s a way that caught my eye recently. In a recent episode of the HBR IdeaCast, as part of a series on how to find joy in our work, the host spoke with author Marcus Buckingham (Love and Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life, 2022) about literally shifting our jobs so we spend more time doing the things we really love.

The conversation goes into how, as a leader, it’s your responsibility to have your employees, on a weekly basis, ask themselves these three things:

  1. Was I excited to work everyday last week? If not, why not?
  2. Did I have the opportunity to use my strengths every day last week? If not, why not?
  3. At work, did I get a chance to do what I’m good at? To do something I love? If not, why not?

These are fundamental questions that managers can start asking, with a regular cadence, to really understand the level of happiness across their team. Building this into the work week is meant to help employees feel confident enough that they can actually share this kind of feedback.

A recent report I saw showed that companies have sent out so many surveys to their employees in an effort to engage them an ensure that employees feel their concerns are heard, and yet, there is this pervasive lack of trust with with so many organizations. The problem is, employees feel they’ve provided all this feedback, and yet, they haven’t necessarily seen any change as a result. This sense of trust is critical to a functional workplace — and it’s never been more important than it is in a hybrid workplace where the workforce is distributed. In this transition to hybrid, companies must get better at responding to this issue of trust. Perhaps we need to do it more iteratively, starting with our team leaders, on a more regular basis.