3 questions your employees will never ask you

By in Engagement, Insights, and O.C. Tanner Institute
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Employees ask their managers lots of questions. What’s the deadline for this project? Can we get a bigger budget? Can I take a vacation day? But there are three questions employees think about often and rarely ask their managers. How am I doing? Does anyone care about me and my work here? What do the company and my manager really think about me?

Research from the Cicero Group found there are easy ways for managers to answer these questions on a regular basis, and by doing so you’ll see powerful results. 

1) “How am I doing? Am I on the right path? Where do I stand?” 

New global research shows that praising effort on a day-to-day basis:

• Helps the employee feel more confident in their skills
• Reassures the employee they’re on the right track
• Lets the employee know they are in good standing with their employer
• Improves the employee’s relationship with their manager 

In fact, encouraging extra effort daily improves those 4 things better than even a 5% bonus.

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How do you encourage effort? Thank employees for going the extra mile on a project, or praise them for their great work along the way—even if the project is not yet complete. Talk to your employees a few times a week to let them know you see their great work and appreciate their efforts.

2) “Am I making a difference here? Does my work matter? What can I do better?”

The same research shows that rewarding results helps employees feel like their work matters and that they are making a difference. It encourages employees to seek new ways of doing things, to be more efficient, and to increase their efforts to make customers (both internally and externally) happy. Rewarding results is the single most impactful thing you can do as a manger to increase performance.


Whether the success is big or small, recognizing accomplishments encourages employees to do it again. Take the team out to lunch, or recognize outstanding team members with a formal award.

3) “Do I fit in and belong in this company?  Does anyone actually care about me? If I quit tomorrow, would anyone miss me?” 

Celebrating a person’s career with the company shows the employee that the organization does care about its employees as individuals, according to the research. It also creates positive relationships among coworkers and helps the employee feel they fit in and belong in the company. No matter the years of service, each career celebration should include a public presentation with personal stories that highlight the person’s contributions to the company over the years. As the employee advances in their career, there are nuances and career celebration best practices every manager should know.

In the end, the questions and self-doubts all employees have can be answered by letting the employee know their work is valued—from the smallest of efforts to the biggest successes.

By christina chau
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