Many leaders want the best performance from their team and their team members. However, many of us struggle to get the best out of some of our teammates. The solution may not be as difficult as you think.
A few years ago, a mentor of mine described how his boss fully supported him every time they met, which was only once a month. In these monthly meetings, his boss only asked him two questions. These two questions were:
- How are you doing?
- How can I help you?
Many people will read these two questions and think, “That can’t possibly be all there is to improve my team’s performance.” The fact is that you can improve your team’s performance with these two questions, but you also should walk the walk and act on the answers to these questions.
These two questions demonstrated that his boss supported him, cared about his team, and had complete confidence in his employees. Let’s explore what is behind these questions
How Are You Doing?
- Empathy. The question “How are you doing?” shows that you care about your employee, soldier, or direct report. In order for the question to have meaning, it must be asked while making eye contact. This question will backfire if you ask it at a superficial level because people can sense insincerity. You must truly care for your employee’s well-being to have an impact.
- Service. “How are you doing?” also shows that you, as a leader, are present to support and serve your direct report. Leadership is NOT a one-way street, where employees execute tasks as the boss directs. True leadership is, in fact, a two-way street in which managers and leaders serve their employees’ needs. Serving your people and taking care of your team defines leadership, not a title or job description.
How Can I Help You?
- Support. The question “How can I help you?” demonstrates that you not only serve your employees but that you are there to help them succeed.
- Trust. This question also provides employees with a sense that you have confidence in them and trust their judgment.
- Confidence. Your confidence in their performance, in turn, gives your employee confidence in themselves.
- Empowerment. Asking your team members what they need from you to complete their job empowers your employees. They feel that they have more latitude in performing their duties. Empowerment boosts performance as those that are empowered feel that they have agency in the organization.
Nothing motivates people more than knowing that their leaders care about them, support them, and have confidence in them. Employees are motivated when they trust that their leaders essentially have their back. Does your motivation when you trust your leaders and they trust you? The same is true for your team members as well.
Try asking these two questions of your team members next time you meet with them. Ask with genuine interest and act on the answers. See what impact it has on your people and your organization.
Question: In what ways do you demonstrate trust and service to your team?
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