I encourage managers to be able to answer five person questions about their employees. The questions don’t really matter, it’s the conversation and the relationship that matters.
The time invested into having these conversations is what will build more open communication, an understanding of each other and a stronger relationship.
What’s your employee’s favorite colour?
Where were they born?
Do they have any siblings?
If they had to be fired, how would they want it to go down?
What did they want to be when they were a kid?
These questions should spark all kinds of questions. Especially the one about getting fired. If you’ve got an employee who is just answering that with a straight face and without questions, you’ve got a pretty strong indicator that they aren’t communicating with you. That question should, at the very least, prompt a ‘what kind of question is that’ response. It opens the door for all kinds of conversation.