So, you have a manager who is checking all the boxes but not growing in the job. They are performing just barely to par. You want to inspire them to think more strategically about how they could lead their team, contribute more to the organization, and develop into a more effective leader. You want to help your managers under pressure to perform.
The key is not to tell your manager what to do, but to coach them to think about how they are leading their team and how they could do it better. The best manager coaches know what questions to ask that inspire deep thought, encourage reflection, increase engagement, and help drive improved performance.
6 Great Questions to Ask Under-Performing Managers
Try asking some of these questions to guide managers toward more effective leadership.
- Would you characterize your team more as participants or contributors?
Employees who act as participants come to work, do their job, and then leave. They don’t look for ways to go beyond their responsibilities to add real value as contributors. Asking this question prompts managers to consider what their role could be in setting higher expectations regarding their team’s goals and accountabilities.
- Are you just running your team or leading it?
According to our management development participants, too many managers simply race from one task to another. They don’t spend time reflecting on how they could take charge, assess what’s working as opposed to what’s not, and take their team to the next level of performance. The best managers believe in continuous learning and development and instill those values in their team.
- Can you think of any habitual behaviors that keep you from being the manager you want to be?
This question asks managers to hold up a mirror and consider what habitual behavior might be hindering their own and their team’s productivity. What about procrastination as an example? What if they addressed problems in a more timely way? How would that improve the team’s success?
- Are you spending more time handling issues rather than preventing them?
This is a question that links back to Question #2 in that it prompts managers to evaluate how much time they spend on strategy rather than tackling issues as they arise. The best managers identify team goals, create a clear strategy to achieve them, and adapt plans as needed. With planning and a little foresight, how many of the issues they are dealing with now could have been prevented?
- Why would someone want to join your team and why would someone leave?
Organizational culture is about how things get done on a day-to-day basis across the company as a whole. But what about your team culture? Does it reflect the values you hold dear and the behaviors you admire and respect?
Encourage managers to assess the pervading culture on their team and their responsibility for shaping it.
- What does a better version of you look like?
It always helps to measure yourself against your ideal. How would you describe your better version? How do you behave? What gaps are there between your current management style and what you envision it might be?
The more self-aware a manager, the more able they are to focus on areas of improvement.
The Bottom Line
Are you doing all you can to support managers who are stuck in a cycle of under-performance? Try asking questions that are designed to inspire them to reflect on how and where they could improve.
To learn more about questions to ask managers who are under pressure to perform, download The leadership Science Behind Increasing Performance Expectations