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Three Great Questions to improve the performance of your team

Want to know what motivates your team? Why not ask them?

· Coaching,Listening,Leadership,Multipliers

So you want to improve the performance of your team but are not sure how? We know our leadership of our people impacts on their job satisfaction, productivity, skill utilisation, staff turnover, morale, taking time off, and even quality of life. But often we get so caught up in the busyness of work, goals and outputs, we forget to take the time to really understand our people and what drives them to perform at their highest level. If we really want to know what drives them, why not ask them? I recommend asking these three questions.

1. What motivates you? This is considered a bit of an old fashioned question these days, but when explored with the team it can uncover some very insightful information. In a recent facilitation with a client looking to build a high performance culture, I asked what motivates them to come to work? There was a range of answers from the 25 people in the room. As a sales-orientated organisation a number said success and rewards, as you would expect. But other themes came out strongly like making a difference, helping others and the people they work with. This exercise revealed to the leaders of the team that while they were all motivated to be high performing, their individual drivers were different. Similarly, in a recent coaching challenge I met with a young women struggling in her new role, she was unhappy and confused by why she was not achieving. She told me she had lost her confidence. Having listened to her story it struck me to ask what motivated her. She took a bit of time to express herself, after a while she offered up: helping others succeed. She had lost sight of this in her new role, thinking she needed to be results driven, as that is what she observed in her colleagues and what her boss had told her. But that's not what motivated her to come to work. She started to figure out how she could align her approach to her own motivator, soon she was gaining confidence and feeling more enthusiastic about her role.

2. What is your genius? I got this question from Liz Wiseman's book Multipliers- how the best leaders make everyone smarter. I've used it many times and found it a revealing question. To be honest initially this question dumbfounds people as they might not think they have a genius, but we all do, we just need someone to take time to uncover it. A genius, according to Liz, is something native to you, what you do effortlessly and comes naturally. Liz encourages us as leaders to find out what our people's genius is and name it as a super power. For example, my super power is coaching, I love it, it comes easily to me. Then the clincher for us as leader's is the follow up question: How can I put your genius to work? Liz in her research found that many people are doing jobs that aren't utilising their genius. When I have done this exercise with teams, I'm constantly surprised how many skills are being left on the table and not used. As a leader, finding out your team's genius and putting it to work will not only improve your relationship with them and their performance, but also tap into extra intelligence and skills for your organisation.

For more information on Multipliers check out

3. What do you want to feel at work? (and what do you not want to feel?) Admit it or not we all experience life through our feelings. How people feel (or don't feel) drives the way we think, act and perform. Leadership programmes have been teaching us for many years that we need to develop our emotional intelligence so we are aware of our own and others feelings. Most organisations and leaders don’t pay enough attention to how employees are feeling and we underestimate how central emotions are to our experience. Asking the simple question "How do you want to feel and not feel at work?" gives you real insight into what experience they want to have at work. Discussing this with the team gives you all a golden opportunity to co-create that working environment. For example, a team I worked with recently was having some team relationship challenges. I asked them about how they were feeling, having created a safe space to do so. It led to a really honest conversation about what was really going on for them. Once uncovered the team agreed the experience they wanted to have and they set about creating it. They agreed to hold each other to account by being more aware of each others emotional triggers, having call outs and giving each other feedback.

A great tool to help with this is The Emotional Culture Deck (every people leader should have this). Its a simple but profound card sort that you can use with your team to build empathy, connection and trust, check out

So I do hope you give these questions a go with your team and I'd love to hear how you get on.