A blog about reputation, marketing and employee morale.

The one question bosses should ask their employees (at least, the employees they want to keep!)

Posted by Janet Smith on January 30, 2009

Have you ever looked at a top performer and thought to yourself, “I sure hope she never thinks about working somewhere else!” If you haven’t thought that…you should. Because it’s your star employees…the ones you’d be lost without…that are most likely to jump ship for another job.  They might be high achievers who keep their eyes and ears open for other opportunities; or consistent, methodical workers who catch the attention of the competition. Some of your best and brightest may be referred to other jobs by friends and neighbors.

The point is that you should never take any employee for granted—particularly the ones you need the most. And to let these folks know that you appreciate them, value them, care about them, and want to keep them happy at work, there’s one question you absolutely must ask them. It may seem simple. It may seem obvious. But how often have you asked this question (or had it asked of you)?

The question is this: What can I do to make your job more rewarding, interesting, and satisfying?

Some employees will have lots to say, as if they’ve been waiting for you to ask.  Some will laugh and ask you if you’re serious. Others may be uncomfortable answering such a question and tell you that everything’s fine. In that case, tell the employee that you’d like him to think about it for a day or so, and perhaps write down some thoughts. But insist on a response, because I can guarantee everyone has something to say when asked this question.

Regardless of what the employee says will make her job more rewarding, interesting, and satisfying, take it seriously. Don’t guffaw, knit your eyebrows, or sarcastically say, “Yeah, right. Don’t hold your breath on that one.”

You asked the question, and must respect the answer and discuss it with the employee. Tell them honestly what you can and can’t do. Tell them what you’d like to do and when you’d like to do it. Involve them in the process of making their jobs better, if at all possible. Show an interest in everything they say.  And to demonstrate how sincerely you care about their happiness, you might ask them why they feel that way.

Ask THE QUESTION at least every three months. Go ahead, write it on your calendar so you won’t forget. Tomorrow, I’ll write about other questions you should ask in the intervening months.

Like this post? Subscribe to The Goodwill Blog via RSS or email.

Comments are closed.