Being a manager often means answering questions. These can be big questions, like the direction of the company or whether to seize the opportunity to go public. Or they can be small questions, such as whom to include on an email or how to format an invoice. While you may know the answers immediately, responding to questions all day long can be tiring! Furthermore, it doesn’t give you the time or energy to address more important issues for the business.
Thankfully, many employee questions are predictable. Regardless of the size of your team, chances are your employees often ask the same types of questions. And if they aren’t asking you the questions, they are more than likely thinking about them. Anticipating the types of questions that may arise can be beneficial to the team overall. By addressing these questions upfront, your team can get the answers they need to do the work at hand.
Keep reading to discover three ways to answer employee questions before they even ask. You’ll be prepared to stop their hand-raising right in its tracks.
1. Create Documentation
Establishing standard processes is essential for any business. It ensures the team knows how to handle certain tasks, how to pass tasks to other teams, and more. Additionally, as you onboard new employees, having process documentation in place can lead to fewer questions. It also ensures that everyone on the team shares a common understanding. So when orders increase or things get busy, everyone can stick to the process and get the work done properly.
Having process documentation also creates a transparent work environment. Those who aren’t responsible for a certain task know how their efforts contribute to the overall business. The team knows how task A moves to task B moves to task C and so forth. It can also reveal duplicate or unnecessary tasks. Nobody needs to do double the work, and documenting your processes can help eliminate that.
To create documentation, get input from all relevant stakeholders. Jot down the overall workflow, the tasks involved, and each individual employee’s contributions. This documentation should include a list of steps that need to be completed to ensure high-quality work. Process documentation can and should change over time, so don’t be afraid to edit it frequently.
2. Offer Regular Training Sessions
Every employee needs and deserves learning opportunities. No matter their role or their past educational experiences, employees can move forward with further professional development. Workplace training sessions can range from how to use Excel to how to form better relationships with customers. These sessions can be conducted individually or as a team and prove beneficial whatever the format.
By improving employee skills and overall knowledge, regular training can help cut back on the questions you are asked. You won’t have to show a subordinate how to write an Excel macro when they’ve just received expert instruction on the subject. Regularly scheduled training will also ensure new employees pick up the types of skills that are required for their jobs. Skills training can help employees move forward in their careers, thus boosting team members’ morale.
Depending on the size of your team, you may want to contract out these training sessions. There are numerous companies that can help identify training gaps and conduct educational sessions for your entire team. Training can be delivered in a variety of ways, from small group coaching to virtual platforms. There may even be an opportunity to have training sessions recorded for use in subsequent employee onboarding. That way they can benefit everyone currently on the team and potential new teammates, too.
3. Share the Vision
Similar to a sports team, a successful work team has a shared vision. They know what success looks like, and they know the work they are doing individually is essential to achieving it.
As the leader, you need to ensure everyone on your team is reminded of this shared vision. Doing so will eliminate many questions related to progress and goals — the “why” questions, in other words. When employees can see the common vision, they can see why they are being assigned certain tasks. They’ll understand why they’re being required to do certain tasks in specific ways.
Sharing the company’s vision shouldn’t happen just during the interview process. It should be shared and reshared during quarterly progress reports and companywide meetings. If you are located in a common workspace, mount the company vision on the wall. The more employees are educated about the vision, the less likely they will come to you with vague “why” questions.
Being a leader is a big responsibility. You are responsible for your team’s productivity as well as their satisfaction at work. You’re also responsible for providing answers when they have questions. This can be a drain on your time and keep you from attending to matters that truly require your attention.
Creating documentation, implementing training, and sharing the company vision won’t eliminate all of your employees’ questions. That said, doing these things will answer some of their questions before they even have the chance to ask you! This will give you the time you need to manage your own work responsibilities.