Innovation is the key to a successful and progressive business, and your staff should constantly be looking for ways to grow your brand. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help keep your workers engaged and motivated to create the next best thing for the company.
To help you inspire and encourage your staff, we asked the experts of Young Entrepreneur Council about ways to spark deeper thinking. Here are 10 important questions leaders should ask their employees to generate ideas and solutions to their toughest problems.
1. What could we try that may not work?
People are often afraid to share ideas because they may fail or be impossible to implement. By removing the criteria that it has to be a readily viable idea, we get solutions that are more creative and innovative, and then the whole team can step in to brainstorm ways we could make them work! – Katie Wagner, KWSM: a digital marketing agency
2. What do you think?
Managers and executives love to complain that nobody ever brings them good ideas, but they rarely ask their staff what they really think. Groupthink is a real problem, especially with strong-willed founders leading the charge. Open yourself up to ideas from your team and you might be surprised what comes out of it. Leaders need to get out of the way sometimes. – David Boehl, GoLastMinute
3. Are you happy?
This may look like a flimsy question, but I think it opens doors to understanding your staff and providing them with the tools to do the work that inspires and satisfies them. Whatever answers come from that question will guide you on what next step to take. For some staff members, a better office environment will inspire them to do better work. For others, it may be a clear vision. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
4. What would you do as the leader?
When you put employees in a higher position of power, it opens their minds to thinking about new solutions and creative possibilities. It’s easier to think innovatively when you don’t have limits, and being the leader gives them more options to work with. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
5. What three things would you change?
“If you were running the company, what three things would you change?” This empowers the employee, encourages them to think creatively and doesn’t limit them to just one idea or solution. Ask it regularly over time, as the answer to that question will change as your business grows and develops. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
6. What is going well for you?
Ask team members what is going well for them. Ask them, “What small wins have you had this week or month?” This is a great way to find out if your team has what they need to be successful, learn how projects are going and ensure they feel that their small wins are just as important as top priorities. They will feel appreciated and inspired to continue working hard, being creative and pushing for results. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
7. Do we have a clear understanding of the root of the problem?
In order to generate solutions, we first need to clearly understand the problem we’re trying to solve. With a clear understanding of the problem, the solution often presents itself. The questions we ask ourselves and others guide our attention. Where our attention goes, we start to put energy. Where we put energy, we get progress. – Kevin Getch, Webfor
8. How am I doing?
Managers and supervisors are used to giving feedback to their direct reports, but they often forget to get feedback on how they’re doing as a leader. So, you should ask your team, “How am I doing?” or, “Do you have any feedback for me regarding XYZ?” Getting feedback on how you’re doing as a leader will help you look at things from a different perspective, which can generate new ideas or solutions. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
9. How would you want a business to market to you as a consumer?
When you put yourself in the position of the customer, it’s easier to understand what they want and how they want to be marketed to. This is an effective question to ask because it takes the focus off producing conversions and puts it on the customer, which is the best way to guarantee you give them what they want. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
10. How do you deal with it?
“If this were your own company, how do you deal with it?” This question helps because it can expand an employee’s mind to consider how they would approach a problem if they had more authority and resources. Creating alternative scenarios helps generate alternative ideas, which we can then tweak to fix a “real-world” problem. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner