How To Empower Your Staff Through Open Questions

A professional relationship between a leader and employees is akin to all other relationships; as such, communication is essential to their success.

There are various components to this, such as minding nonverbal communication, cultural differences, listening, etc.

One of the most vital choices that bosses should make to empower their team members through communication is to ask open-ended, or open, questions. In this article, we will explain what they are, and how they can help your team.

Open ended questions are questions that cannot be answered in one answer (closed questions).

A closed question can be phrased as – “Do you like this idea for our next marketing campaign? – versus an open question, that asks – “What do you think about this idea for our next marketing campaign?”

The first question does not require your employee to pay attention or think about your question, they can simply answer with a “yes” or “no.”

However, the latter question does not let your staff get away so easy; they must consider the campaign, and then provide a thoughtful answer to the question posed.

In meetings, it is even really beneficial to ask open questions.

For example, when the meeting concludes and you ask if anyone has any questions, no one may speak up.

However, that doesn’t mean that all the attendees truly grasped what you were trying to say.

They could be too intimidated to ask, or simply too distracted to even hear you asking if they have questions.

A great tip is to ask open-ended questions at the end of the meeting to review what was said.

Asking questions such as – “What do you think about the ideas I proposed?” or “What was your least favorite of the three suggestions I made?” – will force your team members to pay attention and participate, versus zone off or check their email while you’re talking.

Another scenario where it is wise to use open questions is when communicating with your remote employees.

In those situations, you don’t have the convenience of evaluating their nonverbal language to see if they understand what you want them to do.

Therefore, whether you are emailing or speaking on the phone, asking open questions that call for proactive responses are advantageous.

Although open questions often require more time on the behalf of the manager to listen, versus a quick yes or no response, they are useful to empower your staff to be honest, open and involved.

Many Thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training and Development

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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Mark-WilliamsMark Williams

Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.

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