I don’t advocate that you go off to your teams tomorrow and fire off these questions… That would probably not go down very well and I certainly do not mean going behind their backs and asking others these questions. Those are both classic ways to demotivate or frighten your team as they will question your motive.
Instead, I challenge you take the time and sit down informally with each of your team and show an interest in them.
Perhaps invite them for a coffee.
First open up a bit about yourself. It could be anything, something you did at the weekend or something that your kids said that morning that was funny. Get creative. As long as there is some type of relationship already in place then this should start a pretty open conversation. You can only truly lead people when you know their strengths and what motivates them, so listen!
If you are starting from scratch… then lucky you!
Go ahead and invite your new team member for a coffee to get to know one another and start with a brief history of yourself (including a bit about your private life and hobbies) and then hand over to your employee and LISTEN.
Just a side note. If you are not actively listening during these sessions then you might as well not set them up as they will think you have just come to talk about yourself; so put your phone on silent and out of sight and focus your attention.
‘People read not only your words and posture but what’s going on inside you. If your stance is not genuine the words don’t matter. What will be communicated almost invariably is whether you are genuinely curious, whether you genuinely care about the other person. If your intentions are false, no amount of careful wording or good posture will help. If your intentions are good, even clumsy language wont hinder you.’ – Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton & Sheila Heen.
When you see the person opposite you getting excited then you could ask an open question like ..what do you get out of your sport\hobby? What makes it fun?
Stay curious and see where the journey takes you. Do not judge them, do not reminisce on a time in your life where you did something similar.
Be there with them in that moment.
“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas getting heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” – Deborah Tannen
Further reading: How to instantly connect with anyone – Dr Travis Bradberry