In this series of articles we’ll be reviewing the items of an interview I like to do regularly with my team. It can apply to anyone you supervise and work regularly with. These questions let them know that you see them not just as a person who brings something to the team and project, but also as someone with their own goals and aspirations. It is meant to be an informal chat and I’ve found that the personal nature of the conversation helps strengthen bonds and trust; this is the reason you’ll see at lot of “I”’s: because it’s your personal perception and you’re sharing it as a friend and colleague, without representing the company.
I recommend having it when someone joins your team and then every 2-3 months. Some questions might not apply the first time, as you don’t know each other, but that’s alright: they set the tone for future sessions and make them aware that you’re interested in their feedback.
So here are the first five items with an in depth explanation for each, as well as extra details on some subpoints.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I start with something positive to try and set the tone. It’s one of the items that might not apply if you’ve just started working with the person.
Another one that might not apply at first. The focus here is not on what they’re doing wrong, but what they can do to improve. It doesn’t even have to be linked to something negative, it can just be you giving tips that might help them out.
You don’t have to go in depth with ALL of the bullet points; I normally just fire all the questions at once, but they’re there to see what resonates, what they want to comment on. Maybe they’re really good at something and like doing it; that’s great, they probably want to keep going down that path. But what if they’re good at something but they’d like to try something totally different? That’s not something that would normally come up in most evaluations. Which brings us to the next question.
The way the question is framed keeps the focus on their goals and that we want to help achieve them. Make sure they understand that you’d really like to assist in their growth, in an official or unofficial manner. They shouldn’t feel like they’re making demands to the company - as this can make introverts shut down - but rather as a sharing of ideas to consider. People will be motivated if they know that you’re keeping them in mind for opportunities related to their goals.
It can be nice to hear praise and to know what others think you’re good at. But being a good leader is not just about moments when we excel and pull through under pressure, but also about being diligent in the way we do things day to day, and that’s the reason to be for the second part of the question: because sometimes we might not be aware of the value of some of the things we do.
At the end, make sure to share the notes on the conversation with them. I normally share my screen so they can see as I type down the notes.
These are only the first 5 questions of the 10-question methodology, so stay tuned for the second part of this post in which we’ll review the last half and how much value this feedback brings for both sides.