Getting to know you

Last updated 6 months ago

In my time as a manager, I've done a lot of reading. One of the lessons that really stuck with me was this article from Lara Hogan - one of my all-time favourite management coaches.

It's worth noting that these questions are stolen/lifted/borrowed almost verbatim from the article linked above, with my interpretation added as in-line notes below. As with most areas of life, nothing is original, but you should at least credit the author, so Lara, thank you! :)

If you are planning to roll this out yourself, please go read the original post (linked again for your convenience), as there is a much deeper write-up over on her site.

Without further ado: The Questions

Grumpiness

Grumpiness was chosen as the descriptor here because is deliberately vague. People interpet it as they need to. For some, it's not being able to get out of bed in the morning, whereas for others, it's just "something an icecream can solve". It's interesting to see where the other person takes this. Staying vague, without real examples, might show that you have more work to do to establish a 'safe sharing space', but others might just bomb you with honesty from the get-go!

  • What makes you grumpy at work?

  • How will I know when you’re grumpy?

  • How can I help you when you’re grumpy?

Feedback & Recognition

Feedback and Recognition is something that varies WILDLY from person-to-person, and it might be driven from their previous management/life experiences, corporate exposure, or even cultural values... but it is essential to get this right in order to gain trust and give feedback effectively.

  • How do you like feedback - the medium (Slack, email, in person, etc.)

  • How do you like feedback - routine like in syncs, or as-it-happens?

  • How do you prefer to receive recognition? (public or private)

Goals and Support

No-one likes to waste their time, but some people dearly value sitting in silence. Let's clarify expectations by asking about their goals and support.

  • What makes these syncs valuable for you?

  • What are your goals for this period? And for the next 6 months after that?

  • What do you feel you need from your manager?

  • What do you feel you need from your team?

  • What do you feel you need from your peers? (outside the team, i.e.: the department)

A Single Long Question

This is a personal statement, something I believe in, and something that can open the air for future syncs (or beers, or coffee chats). Framing the question this way also allows me to share some of my core values from the start and see how we align and where I might need to spend more time/effort.

I believe that human learning and growth requires the right amount of four things:

  1. new challenges,

  2. low ego,

  3. space to reflect and brainstorm, and

  4. timely and clear feedback.

So...

  • How are these four going for you?

NOTE: This question is deliberately vague. Some people talk about their expectations for the new role, others focus on their personal life, or their past. Again, it's interesting to SHUT UP and allow the other person to share their interpretation.

  • Is there one you need more or less of?

The Most Important Question

Everyone loves a laugh, and a reward, and it's good to end on a high-note, so lets find out what you need to bring in when you're trying to raise spirits, reward someone, or even just surprise them with something they like.

  • What’s your favorite baked good or Dutch treat?

I wish this was easier to copy/paste

No worries! Here you go.