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The four questions to ask every single employee for feedback

Based our research, these are the essential employee engagement questions for managers that we’ve found to be most effective.

Getting good feedback starts with asking a good question.

Ask a good question and you’ll discover that there’s a part of the business you’re neglecting, or an issue you weren’t aware of. A specific, thoughtful question can even shift an employee’s perception about the company, and help them feel more heard and valued.

That’s the power of asking the right question. You can unlock what an employee actually thinks about your company.

So what are the best questions to ask?

We’ve pulled together over a year’s worth of data from over 300 questions that Know Your Team provides. Across 15,000+ managers and employees in 25 countries, these four questions below were the most popular. We hope sharing them with you here will help you as much as they’ve helped our current customers.

#1: Do you think the company is the right size?

Why this question is important: Growth comes with unintended consequences. You’ll want to learn what those consequences are for your company. For example, do people still recognize each other in the hallway? Do people feel that the leadership team is still accessible? That’s something important to dig into if you’ve recently hired folks, or opened up a new set of offices.

#2: Have you ever been afraid to suggest an idea at work because you thought someone might shoot it down?

Why this question is important: Innovative ideas happen when there is a diversity of opinions. You want to create an environment where dissenting opinions are encouraged, and everyone feels comfortable weighing in. Otherwise, you’ll end up fostering group-think. Asking this question will help clue you into whether you should encourage more “devil’s advocate” viewpoints.

#3: Do you feel like you’re spread too thin right now?

Why this question is important: No one performs well when their attention is spread too thin. Not only does it make a person less productive, but that stress and negativity can rub off on others too. So it’s important to gage how stressed folks feel, so you can identify potential burnout earlier, and keep that sentiment from affecting other employees.

#4: If someone asked you to describe the vision of the company, would a clear answer immediately come to mind?

Why this question is important: Having a shared vision in the company is the most powerful way you can motivate people. If the vision isn’t clear or if it’s not shared across the entire company, you’re not giving your employees a big enough reason to care to do good work (other than for a paycheck). Asking this question is a good gut check of if you, as the leader are actively thinking about how you’re motivating your employees and the direction you’re headed as a company.

Of course, asking the right questions is only half the battle. You have to ask for feedback in the right way. And most importantly, you have to act on that feedback.

But it does start with a question.

Start with these four questions. Ask them to every employee — whether it’s during a one-on-one or the next time you grab coffee with someone. It’ll get you off on the right foot.

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Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Canopy. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.