The power to question is the basis of all human progress - Indira Gandhi
No doubt asking the right questions helps in building rapport and deeper connections with people. It is a key leadership skill to possess.
You can use the skill of asking the right questions to your advantage when you transition to a new role. Starting a new position provides you with a fresh, clean slate to establish the right connection and trust with your boss.
How you manage the first few conversations set the tone for your future relationship with them.
So why are we focussing on asking the right questions?
Entering a new relationship with clarity is the doorway to its long-term success. When you gain clarity on the expectations your manager has from you, it helps you to evaluate them and consider behaviours that will meet those expectations.
I recall coaching a client a few years back who was struggling with gaining clarity from his boss on his deliverables. He felt very anxious all the time and acknowledged being distracted and tense at home. Even before we could kickstart the sessions he sadly left the organisation.
Clarity provides you with the confidence to deliver valuable results. This is because you come to know what you need to prioritize and what will make the biggest difference to your manager.
The right questions help you understand the other person, their needs, values and challenges. They provide you with the opportunity to know when to offer support, something your boss will greatly appreciate.
Asking questions like ‘how can I help or support you?’ indicates to the other person that you are willing to go beyond just your job, so you make a great first impression!
Mitigate the risk of questioning your boss!
Being new in your role, you may be uncomfortable asking your manager questions in the first few days. You may even consider it a risk because you don’t want to appear intrusive or overconfident.
Since the benefits of asking questions outweigh the risks, it helps to consider how you could mitigate them.
Focus on HOW you ask the question. Use a respectful tone and align your body language to it. Demonstrate sincerity and curiosity so that the other person knows that you have their best interests at heart.
If comfortable, you can share the reasons for asking the questions so that your boss understands the intent behind them e.g. you can say, "I would like to understand your expectations to deliver results that match them".
Using a conversational tone when asking questions helps you appear natural and authentic.
Here are five questions you can ask your manager when transitioning to a new role
1) I would love to understand what your ideal employee looks like (this is a great question to ask in interviews too!)
2) In my new role, what are your expectations from me?
3) What is the one thing if I did differently, would make a difference to you?
4) What is most important on your list to accomplish? Is there any way I can help?
5) How often do you want me to communicate with you and, how do you prefer I do it?
Recommended Book – The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger