Your managers are critical to the success of your company. They’re often more in touch with customer and employee sentiment than you, and poised to both recognize and solve issues as they arise. Provided you are empowering them to act decisively, that is.
Try sitting down with your manager on a weekly basis to get the inside scoop and learn what role you can play in improving it. With this in mind, we asked eleven entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share the best questions you should be asking key leaders in order to help them continue to move your company forward.
1. What have you learned this past week?
It’s important to me that my managers continue to learn and grow, so I ask each of them (including myself) to reflect on what we’ve each learned over the past week and share that with the other managers. Not only does it usually provide useful insights into how we can continue to improve AquaMobile, but it demonstrates just how far we’ve each come in our positions over time.--Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile Swim School
2. What are your bottlenecks?
Looking at management as the main arteries of your operational system, your role as leader is to modify the processes for optimal outcome. By identifying and removing bottlenecks in management processes, you will help management identify critical elements needed to optimize performance and growth. Whatever metrics you use, identifying bottlenecks will keep things flowing smoothly.--Ross Resnick, Roaming Hunger
3. What isn’t working?
There is always, always room for improvement in every system and process. Sometimes spending two hours to troubleshoot a problem and get to its root (often by asking three or four “why?” questions in a row) can yield a systematic process change that will save dozens or even hundreds of hours longterm. A weekly check-in on what isn’t working is a great way for spotting and fixing inefficiencies.--Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
4. Are we getting the most important things right?
Stay focused on the big items that make the largest impact by asking your key managers if they are getting those items right. There are always a few key things that, if done well, make everything else possible. Talk to them about those “big dominoes” and work on them until they’re done right. Then you’re free to tackle the complementary pieces that help you elevate to the next level.--Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell
5. Why might we fail next year?
Get your managers out of the day-to-day challenges and focused on the big picture on what could really cause failure over the longterm. “Big rock” problems take time and thought to get right, so you need to see them coming a year away. Ultimately, vision and thinking ahead is what makes you a great leader.--Trevor Sumner, LocalVox
6. Where did we see growth this week?
Finding out where you’re growing on a weekly basis is the best way to continue and even help add to that growth. Keeping a close eye on what is and isn’t working is the best way to shift strategies to focus on the things that are working and restructure the things that aren’t.--Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.
7. What decisions can I help you make?
I’ve often said that a successful company is the result of thousands of good decisions. It’s decision-making that drives a company forward. Until the decision is made, ideas are merely talk and data merely numbers. Ask your team what decisions they are struggling to make and offer to evaluate the options. Then, decide and move forward together, as a team.--David Ciccarelli, Voices.com
8. What’s the score?
I’m a huge advocate of the book “Traction” by Gino Wickman, and my senior team reads it every quarter. In the book, one section talks about the metrics every company should be tracking weekly and monthly. Your profit and loss statement is lacking information, and our weekly scorecard tracks seven particular metrics, such as client mood scores and closed business. As Tom Peters said, “What gets measured gets done.”--Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications
9. How is morale among your reports?
This question has a number of important functions. First, it highlights the importance of checking in with direct reports to managers; and second, it increasesthe likelihood that they’ll talk to their reports more. Follow up with questions on specific things they’ve done to improve team morale and you’ll be fostering a healthy corporate culture that increases productivity over the longterm.--Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
10. How is everything going?
I am constantly checking in with my managers so I can get a pulse of the teams. I like to ask if they think their team will hit their goals and numbers overall. I make sure I am involved in each of the meetings with the teams as well. Being extremely involved helps you game how the team can reach their highest productivity.--Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
11. What’s one amazing thing that happened to you professionally or personally this week?
I find that “getting straight to business” is not the best way to open meetings. Since our team is dispersed and does not see each other frequently, this is a great way to 1) start the meeting differently; 2) help employees think about positive aspects of their life/job despite their hectic schedules; and 3) allow others to enjoy the team’s success. It’s a win-win-win.--Tamara Nall, The Leading Niche