If you want better answers, ask better questions – especially if you care about building a healthy team culture. “It would be nice if all leaders and teams knew that questioning and inquisitiveness are at the heart of building great team culture, ” says John Latimer, Head of Content at Coach Hub, a leadership training and development platform.
Asking thought-provoking questions to your coworkers (and even your boss) on a regular basis fosters openness and collaboration, two crucial pillars of a thriving culture. “This means that team members need to feel empowered to ask questions, explore new ideas, and share their perspectives openly and honestly with each other,” adds Latimer.
Benefits of asking thought-provoking questions at work
According to him, other benefits of asking powerful questions at work include higher engagement and a deeper sense of belonging. When you get to know the people that you work with on a more meaningful level, you build trust. That sense of psychological safety creates an environment where there is more innovation and creativity – not to mention increased job satisfaction.
And the opposite is also true. If nobody is ever asking any questions in your team, it’s a red flag. “If team members feel like they can’t ask questions or share their thoughts openly, the culture will suffer,” says Latimer. Below he shared the most thought-provoking questions to ask both your boss and coworkers to build a rock-solid team culture.
3 Thought-provoking questions to ask your boss
When it comes to asking your boss questions, it’s important to focus on topics that “help you understand the bigger picture and how your work contributes to the overall goals of the organization.”
This will help you grow and develop your career while also supporting your team by focusing on contribution and impact.
“What are our top priorities right now?”
Priorities constantly change, and you want to make sure that you have an intimate knowledge of the overarching goals of your organization. This question can start an insightful conversation that opens your eyes to where you should be spending more energy and which efforts to reconsider.
“How can I best support our team in achieving these goals?”
This question can shine a light on where your boss sees your strengths. Perhaps you have skills that you take for granted that are super valuable to your team.
“How does my role contribute to achieving our objectives, and what can I do to improve my performance?”
This question is all about defining expectations for your role and getting on the same page. It’s also a great conversation starter when you’re aiming for a promotion. You’ll be able to gauge where you stand and what you need to do to deliver outstanding performance.
4 Thought-provoking questions to ask your coworkers
Don’t be shy – ask thought-provoking questions to your coworkers on a regular basis. You’ll be surprised at how fast the dynamic can shift in a positive way when you go from watercooler gossip to meaningful convos.
The key is asking questions with an open mind and curiosity to get to understand how your teammates think, what areas of common ground exist – as well as whether there are any areas of tension that could benefit from solutions. It’s also about bonding with your coworkers.
“What do you think are our strengths and weaknesses?”
“This question can help identify areas that need improvement and also build on existing strengths,” according to Latimer. For instance, you and your coworkers may realize that you are amazing at coming up with creative solutions together, but could improve your workflows to be scalable. You look into hiring a project manager to help you with operations as a result.
“How do you think we should handle conflict?”
Conflict in a team can be a sensitive topic, but people might also find the discussion that this question sparks refreshing. It’s better to anticipate how to navigate conflict than to react to it, and being willing to have those slightly uncomfortable conversations can help your team feel closer and more ready to deal with conflict constructively should it arise.
“What makes you feel the most engaged and motivated at work?”
Perhaps you’ll discover that some of your teammates value being able to brainstorm together. Maybe you’ll find out that the types of projects you can’t stand are someone else’s favorites. This question can spark ideas for increasing engagement and motivation.
“What do you think makes our culture strong?”
This question is thought-provoking because it uncovers the team culture that you have – not the one that you wish you had. For example, maybe your organization invests a lot in communicating that failing forward is a top value. But you discover that one of the strengths of your team culture is inclusivity, according to how your team views itself (aka the people living the culture day in and day out). The goal is not to judge, but to build on the cultural foundation that already exists organically and serves you well.