How often have you asked someone on your team, “How are you doing?” and gotten one of the following responses:
Not too bad.
Fair to middlin’.
Another day in paradise.
Livin’ the dream.
And now you know nothing more than when you first asked the question. So how can you really find out how your team is doing/being/feeling in a way that’s meaningful?
Consider the “3.5 Question Temperature Check”
Question 1) On a scale of 1-10 how are you doing this week?
- 7 is the most common answer. And is a true measure of “fine.” Not lovin’ it, not hatin’ it.
- Less than 7 = danger Will Robinson.
- More than 7 – score!
Question 1.5) What contributes to that number?
Question 2) What would make it an 8 (one more than what they said)?
- Then talk through what’s needed to make that happen – from them, from you, from the team.
- Heads up – here is where you will usually learn if their response was based on personal, professional or a combination. If it’s a personal challenge, simply demonstrate compassion and empathy, while still holding them accountable to professional goals.
Question 3) If higher or lower than last time, ask “Last time you said you were X, and now you’re Y, what made the difference?”
If the answer is the same, was there follow through on action items from last time? *Keep in mind there can be diligent follow through and new circumstances affecting the number.
This process has multiple advantages:
- You’re able to quickly ascertain morale progress or decline.
- Once this process becomes a habit, your team will be thoughtful in their response to you.
- You’ll notice your team will begin to own their number, as well as their role in creating it. People become accountable to their own answer.
- Question two allows for solutioning and improving without blame.
- Hypocrisy becomes incredibly self-evident if they tell you an “8” and then turnaround and kvetch to their co-worker.
- You will learn about the specific challenges facing the individuals on your team – both professional as well as personal.
- You will learn about their successes and where things are working and be able to expand on them.
Caveats to make this work:
- Keep in mind that someone’s 6 is someone else’s 7. We all have different expectations. The point is not the number, but rather the why behind it.
- Don’t ask to ask – ask because you genuinely want to know.
- Be fully attentive when you ask and listen to the answers.
- While this process is wonderfully efficient – don’t make it a “fly by.”
- Know that when you ask you will likely walk away with one or two action items.
- Follow through on those action items.
- Have them share with you follow-through on their action items.
- Sometimes no action is required – and you just need to hold space (have empathy and compassion) for someone going through a tough time.
- Be prepared to answer these same questions when asked of you.
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