There is both an art and a science to asking questions. Yet managers are usually trained in neither whilst at the same time being bombarded with the importance of asking their employees questions and providing them with rich, impactful feedback.

Where to start? Well try this blog series.

Doctors, lawyers, journalists, teachers: what do they all have in common? They all know how to ask great questions at work.

But most of us outside of those professions are a bit in the dark with how to ask a question well and why that really matters in the workplace. Especially when you’re asking those questions to your people.

Questions are a hugely powerful tool that all managers should know how to use well.

A great question can spur learning and the sharing of ideas because they fuel innovation and improve performance. A well-weaved question can build rapport and trust among a team.

However, a bad question might have biased, leading, confusing or discriminatory language. It’ll influence how they answer. And inaccurate employee feedback’s going to really impact any actions you take to make effective change.

So, it is vitally important managers are able to ask great questions of their people, whether that’s in a performance review, probation meeting or even an exit interview.

And that is why we have recently written our ’10 Questions’ blog series.

Here’s a run-down of what the series contains:

10 questions to ask in a performance review

10 questions to ask in a probation review

10 questions to ask in a 1:1

10 questions to ask during an exit interview

10 questions to ask in quarterly reviews

10 questions to ask in a pay review

10 questions to ask in a project review

10 questions to ask your over-achievers

10 questions to ask your under-achievers

Use the links above to jump to a particular section, or read on to see it all.

10 questions to ask in a performance review

Performance reviews get a bad rep a lot of the time. But as part of a continuous approach to performance management and with some great preparation, they are an essential meeting to have.

When it comes to performance reviews, they hinge on the quality of questions asked, the feedback shared and the goals and plans put into place.

To get you off to a flying start this short article offers up 10 great questions including:

  • What are you most proud of since our last review?
  • Is there anything you’d like to do less of moving forward?
  • What are 2 things I could do differently to make your working day a breeze?

10 questions to ask in a probation review

Probation periods are often nerve-wracking for new employees. Reviews don’t exactly help with that.

But probation reviews are vital in order for you to understand how well your new team member is settling in. It also gives your newbie chance to get some super-useful feedback and ask any big questions.

So, check out this blog for 10 questions to ask in a probation review, including:

  • How is work matching up to your expectations?
  • What would you like to achieve over the next few months?
  • What could we have done differently to improve your first few month here?

10 questions to ask in a 1:1

1:1 (one to one) meetings should be the absolute go-to meeting that happens often between you and your people. They’re a chance for you to get in some quality time with your people to touch-base and build rapport.

Ideally, these would be happening at least monthly, if not fortnightly or even weekly.

But what should you be asking? Well, this article has you covered. A few key questions to consider include:

  • What support do you need from me in the short-term?
  • What are your top priorities at the moment?
  • Is anything or anyone getting in your way and hindering your work?

10 questions to ask during an exit interview

Exit interviews aren’t always top of your “my favourite work meetings” list but they are something you should be running when the time comes.

Obviously, you will likely have a member of the HR team sitting in on this one, but you should still prepare your questions.

So, check out this write-up for some useful questions to get your exit interviews off to a flying start, such as:

  • What did you enjoy most and least about your time here?
  • Is there anything we could’ve done to keep you here?
  • What’s the hiring process been like where you’re going? What should we learn?

10 questions to ask in quarterly reviews

Quarterly reviews and performance reviews often overlap – in our experience the most effective performance reviews are run quarterly.

But that doesn’t mean the questions are the same – if nothing else the cadence of quarterly means you can focus on different areas in each.

Here’s a selection of 10 great questions to get you going, including:

  • How do you feel your work-life balance is right now?
  • What skills would you like to develop over the next three months?
  • Are your goals for the next quarter clear, fair and appropriate?

10 questions to ask in a pay review

Pay reviews are becoming a much more common occurrence between managers and their team members.

They’re a great chance to review not only how well rewarded your team are, but where their careers are taking them and how you can help shape their futures.

This blog details 10 questions you can use to shape your next employee pay review such as:

  • How do you feel you have developed professionally over the past year?
  • Are there any other benefits that could help you out?
  • What are your current pay expectations?

10 questions to ask in a project review

During and especially at the end of big projects, review meetings are a must: there is always plenty to learn as a project progresses and post-completion that can help shape future success.

Read this article to learn 10 great questions to ask in your next project review, such as:

  • What does the success in the next stage of the project look like?
  • How is communication within the project team?
  • What lesson have you learnt that will impact your future projects?

10 questions to ask your over-achievers

Overachievement feels like a good thing right? Well, a lot of the time it is. But it can also be a red flag pointing toward potential burnout or poor wellbeing.

Prolonged overachievement may also suggest the goals you’re setting aren’t really stretching your people.

Either way, running a meeting to get to the bottom of overachievement is vital. This article helps get you started with 10 great questions to ask your people, including:

  • Are you satisfied with your current role?
  • Do you feel able to delegate work if/when needed?
  • What are your current career goals?

10 questions to ask your under-achievers

If overachievement feels like a good thing initially, underachievement always feels like a negative.

When a member of your team isn’t hitting the heights you, and they, expect of themselves it’s time for a chat.

Underachievement can be a result of a number of potential influences, and getting to the bottom of what is the root cause is key. So to help, this article will help you identify why underachievement is happening. From there you can plan to put things right.  Questions here include:

  • What are the most enjoyable elements of your role for you?
  • Do you have everything you need to do your job?
  • Is there anything I can do to support you better?

Ask better questions of your people today

No matter what sort of meeting you’ve got on the horizon, armed with our ‘10 Questions’ series you’ll be ready to roll.

However, if you want to really make those conversations as effective as possible, you might want to check out our Engage365 and Perform365 products.

Thanks to our employee check-in, goal-setting tools and performance conversation templates you’ll have all you need to have impactful conversations with your people. We support you and your people, whether that’s in Microsoft Teams or on the web.