New people managers are often eager to give advice to their colleagues–whether they ask for it or not. It’s an understandable impulse. After all, it’s a manager’s job to guide their team and solve problems, right?
Not so fast. You may not realize it, but your well-intentioned advice might hurt employee engagement. Some people feel overwhelmed and shut down if they constantly get bombarded with suggestions from their manager. Others may lose motivation and take less accountability.
Effective managers spend less time giving advice and more time asking questions. This process involves actively listening to your team so you can understand their goals, needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Here are four ways asking questions improves your leadership skills and develops more productive teams.
1. Strengthen workplace communication
Many inexperienced managers rush to offer advice before they fully understand the problem or situation. This well-meaning approach can lead to miscommunication, frustration, and wasted resources.
Take the time to ask clarifying questions to reduce the likelihood of confusing or awkward miscommunication. This step helps you understand the full picture so you can provide the best recommendations. Your colleagues will also trust you more when they know you’re actively listening to their concerns.
2. Empower teams to have courageous development conversations
Talking to your team members about their performance can feel uncomfortable and even scary. Make this process easier by using active listening and curiosity to create an open dialogue. Let your colleagues know they can share their goals, challenges, and concerns without judgment.
Refrain from offering guidance until you understand your team’s unique needs and obstacles. You can also develop peer feedback and mentorship programs so your colleagues can help each other grow.
3. Improve your ability to support others
Prioritize curiosity to strengthen your ability to develop and support your colleagues. Asking questions makes you a more empathetic leader and helps you better understand your team. That way, you can provide compassionate and personalized guidance.
Practicing active listening also promotes a culture of curiosity. You’ll model a learning mindset for your team and encourage risk-taking. This approach can inspire colleagues to pursue personal and professional growth.
4. Promote growth and open-mindedness
Asking questions helps managers create more open-minded work environments. When you ask colleagues for input, you demonstrate that you welcome and respect their contributions. This simple step increases employee engagement and fosters a culture of collaboration.
Embracing an open-minded perspective also encourages creativity and personal development. You'll model a growth mindset by demonstrating that you're receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things. Your colleagues are also more likely to suggest fresh and unconventional solutions if they trust you won't dismiss or judge their ideas. As a result, your team will feel more motivated to solve problems and strive for self-improvement.
Additionally, active listening promotes diverse perspectives. By prioritizing questions over advice, you empower everyone to have a voice in decision-making and policy creation. This approach prevents one person or group from dominating the conversation and allows your team to take advantage of collective experience.
Learn how to use coach-like curiosity to take your leadership skills to the next level with Box of Crayons. Check out The Coaching Habit to discover how we can help you increase employee engagement and promote growth mindsets.