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Ask Your Employees These Eight Important Questions At The Start Of Each Year

At the beginning of the year, companies and employees alike are setting resolutions for the months ahead. As employees set their sights on new goals, there are a few questions leaders should be asking them at the start.

With these thought-provoking questions, leaders can be a part of the solution to set employees up for success and help them contribute to the company goals. To help you identify the best things to ask, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council each offered one question business leaders should ask employees in January to pave the way for a successful year.

1. What challenges do you anticipate facing?

I suggest asking your team what challenges they anticipate facing in the year ahead. This question can help you discover issues that you may have overlooked up until this point. We’ve used feedback from this question to make changes to our business model and invest in new, helpful tools that benefit everyone on our team. I suggest you ask this question every quarter instead of annually, but you definitely don’t want to forget to gather this type of feedback at the start of each year. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

2. What would you like to improve on?

We always start the year by asking our team what they would like to improve on the most this year. This allows us to see where they feel their strengths and weaknesses are so we can adjust and plan. It is also a great marker to track their growth and success for the year. We want to make sure that these goals are SMART, meaning they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. With these all checked off, everyone can get on the same page and we can build a support system around them. – Torrey Tayenaka, Sparkhouse

3. What do you need from me to progress?

What do you need from me to progress? What can I do better this year to help you succeed? With these kinds of questions, you let the employee think about not only the personal goals of the year, but also about what setting they need to be in in order to be best positioned to achieve those goals. Simultaneously, you collect valuable feedback about how you as a leader support your team in their goal achievement. – Dave Hengartner, rready

4. What small changes can you make to improve things?

My theme for the year has been to “refine.” This means making small changes and improvements across different areas of our business. So, the question I’ve posed to my entire team for the upcoming year is, “What small changes can you make or have you made to improve things?” I think that too many people believe they need to make dramatic changes and big actions to create an impact in their business. But the reality is that it’s small and consistent changes that snowball into growing your business. So asking your team what small changes they can make is a good question to pose at the beginning of the year. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

5. What are your personal goals?

I ask them about their personal goals. We all work to provide for ourselves and our families. Work is a means to an end. By identifying how you can help your employees, you can in turn foster their company productivity. For example, if their goal is to spend more time with their family, offer more PTO as a performance incentive. If their goal is to travel, offer a paid trip as a bonus. Intertwining their professional success with their personal happiness and associating the company as the solution is the way to build a healthy culture of success. If an employee doesn’t have any goals, provide them with a mentor. A good mentor’s mission is to help an employee achieve overall happiness and success. Happiness creates loyalty and loyal employees will work their hardest for the company! – Bill Mulholland, ARC Relocation

6. What defeat from last year taught you the most?

This question can be worded multiple ways, but I think it’s important to view failures or letdowns as learning, teachable moments that improve and strengthen us. For many people, work is busier than ever thanks to the current job market, so it’s a good time to pause, reflect and refocus on discovering the most productive learning moments from the past year and adjust the view or incident into a more positive one. Since you’d be asking them this at the beginning of the year, it’s also a productive or healthy way to start on a new path for the new year. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.

7. What career goal would you like to achieve in the next year?

Even though the beginning of the year can be a hectic time and often just feels like you are picking up where you left off last year, it is important to make a point of distinction so that the new year feels like a fresh start rather than just more of the same. This is why it is so important to begin the year with goal setting and asking employees what it is they would like to achieve in their careers in the next 12 months. Establishing clear goals gives people a sense of purpose and sets them up with step-by-step milestones on how to achieve their targets. By ensuring that employee goals fit into the company’s overall targets, the company also gets the benefit of a motivated team all pulling in the same direction. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS

8. What can we do better in the future?

It may seem like a basic question, but it rings true every year: What can we do better in the future? Find out what your team felt worked well this year. Did they have the tools and resources they needed to be productive and successful? Were there enough meetings and opportunities to collaborate? Most importantly, did they feel that they maintained a healthy work-life balance? Find out what your team felt you did well, and pinpoint areas you can improve upon this year. So much happens from one year to the next, making this question an important one to always ask, regardless of how many times you feel you’ve already covered it. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

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