How Good Leadership Creates a Dialogue With Employees

Being the boss of your organization comes with great responsibility which means you are going to need to learn to be a great leader. When managers lack these skills, there can great turmoil within an organization. One leadership skill that managers must harness is the ability to create a dialogue with their employees and conduct an effective performance review.

The Performance Review

“When conducting a performance conversation or coaching session with an employee, it is best if they do the majority of the talking” says Steve Rosen, a business coach with the Coaching Institute. “To elicit a dialogue with employees, ask questions that cause individual team members to reflect and share information.” 

Questions that explore other points of view or other possible directions or outcomes will encourage employees to solve their own problems and improve their performance. When employees solve their own problems, employees are more engaged causing the solutions to be implemented immediately and without resistance.

Questions to Ask

According to many of the experts on leadership, being a great leader starts with asking good questions. Questions such as “What else?” or “What did you do next?” will encourage an employee to continue to explain and elaborate or expand on the ideas they’ve presented so far. If you ask “If you were in my position (or someone else’s position relevant to the situation), what would you do?” will encourage the employee to see the situation or problem from another person’s point of view.

Follow up with a question such as, “What do you think the outcome would be of that solution?” or “What would be some of the disadvantages or pitfalls of that solution?” to help the employee think through the implementation of the idea to its outcome. If you are discussing multiple possible solutions to a performance issue, ask “What would you say are the pros and cons of the solutions you are suggesting?”. Help employees to see the best option by documenting their ideas on a white board or flip chart.

For example, many employees might feel that your organization would benefit with remote working options. With the recent Coronavirus epidemic, these types of systems could greatly help your business which requires that you be a leader who is open to change.

Questions to Ask in Difficult Situations

If you are discussing a very difficult, emotional situation, ask the employee, “What is the most challenging part of this situation/decision for you?” and/or “How can I make this situation easier for you?”. Another helpful question to help the employee gain perspective on the situation is to ask them, “What would you tell a friend in this same situation?”.

If you need to redirect an employee who is immersed in negative thoughts and opinions, try asking them, “What good will come from this?” or “What is positive about this situation?”.

Questions to Avoid

Questions that begin with “Why…” should be avoided as it puts the employee on the defensive. Other questions to avoid include: questions that support one point of view only, questions that put the blame on the employee or someone they care about, questions that force an employee to compare themselves with another coworker, questions that bring up the past (instead of focusing on the situation at hand) and questions that exaggerate the situation. These questions can increase the anxiety level of the employee and shut down communication.

When an employee feels heard, they feel appreciated, valued and respected. Taking the time to create an open dialogue will prevent surprises due to lack of communication.