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.
Here’s a quick list of five to get you started:
What’s your employee’s favorite colour?
Where were they born?
Do they have any siblings?
If they had to be terminated, 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 being terminated. 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. Most of the time, that question at the very least prompts a nervous laugh or a ‘what kind of question is that’ response. It opens the door for all kinds of conversation and sets a stage for difficult conversations. Conversations are one of the most effective ways to build a relationship that you will most certainly need down the road when things are hard – even fun things like moving to a new office is hard and leaning on the relationship you’ve built helps you be a more effective and efficient team.