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How You Can Learn From Your Employees

A chalkboard with 'Feedback' written on it.

Leadership isn’t always just having certain characteristics or making major contributions to an organization. Sometimes you need to take a step back and get some advice from the people you supervise. Last week on the Daily Muse, Katie Douthwaite posted 4 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Employees, which can help a manager determine how to motivate employees and make sure their teams are running smoothly. Here are some examples of the questions you can ask to figure out how to make the workday run more smoothly:

1. “How Do You Want to be Rewarded?”

"For the first few months at a previous job, my boss would reward me with food (e.g., catered lunches, midday coffee, and a never-ending supply of candy) and other oddball gifts, like stationery and high-end self-tanner. And while receiving gifts was exciting at first (Christmas every day!), the specific rewards she chose didn’t motivate me to work any harder than usual, because they weren’t things I really wanted. After a while, the gifts actually started frustrating me—I was working for a not-so-impressive start-up salary and would have preferred to put the money she spent on those gifts toward a more enduring reward, like a 401(k)."

"As a manager, you don’t always have an accurate picture of what your employees truly want. But if you give them a chance to spell it out for you, you’ll have a crystal clear vision of how you can motivate them. Whether you change up your reward system to incorporate additional days off, midweek dress-down days, weekly team recognition meetings, or a structured bonus program, when you include the things they actually want, they’ll likely be a lot more willing to put in that extra effort."

2. “How Do You Work Best?”

"My previous office boasted an impressive speaker system, which was constantly hooked up to a steady stream of hip-hop and rap. And while my co-worker loved jamming out to this upbeat music while she worked, I couldn’t concentrate when my desk was vibrating from the pounding bass. I finally brought that up to my boss, and she immediately bought my co-worker a pair of heavy-duty headphones—a solution that satisfied both our preferences."

"Depending on your specific company and its environment, you may not be able to accommodate every request. But, once you ask this question and find out what really helps your employees put forth their best effort, you can try to make small changes."

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