Open-Ended Questions Enhance Employee Communication

Posted by David Grossman on Mon, May 20, 2019


As a leader, you know that engaging employees and helping connect them to your business goals can directly impact the bottom line. Your internal communication plan can include two-way communication vehicles like feedback channels and listening sessions to help accomplish this. 

An Opportunity to Increase Employee Engagement

But when it comes down to it, interactions with leaders are what make or break an employee’s connection with the organization. Every time you are in front of an employee, whether one-on-one or in a group, you have an opportunity to increase that engagement through dialogue.

One sure way to start the conversation is with an open-ended question. Unlike questions that give people limited options for response, open-ended questions encourage them to express their opinions and ideas. When you listen to what they have to say, showing interest and respect for their input, it shows you care and the impact can be significant.

Recently, I was coaching a leader on strategic presentation skills. He had the tendency to keep talking without stopping and needed some work to better connect with the people in the room. We talked about the importance of pausing during the presentation and asking a question to engage the audience.

During our coaching session, when he first paused for emphasis, I was happy he had listened to my recommendation. But then he counteracted the positive effect by asking, “Does anyone have any questions?” That’s like saying, “does anyone want to loan me $5,000?” It was great for him to pause, but asking a closed-ended question basically shut people down rather than opening them up. 

On the other hand, you can open the conversation and create an energizing dialogue if you use a few common open-ended questions. 

Try these common open-ended questions:

  • Help me with your reaction to what I just said.
  • Give me some feedback on the choices I just presented.
  • What are your thoughts?
  • Would you tell me more about ___?
  • Can you help me understand that a little better?
  • How does that process work now?
  • How do you see this happening?
  • What kind of challenges are you facing?
  • What’s the most important priority to you with this? Why?
  • What other issues are important to you?
  • What is it that you’d like to see accomplished?

What opportunities do see in the coming weeks to open the conversation and engage employees?

—David Grossman 

Click below to download the eBook—Can You Hear Me Now? Make What You Say Matter and Increase Your Chances of Being Heard—to access messaging secrets on how to connect and communicate with your team:

Tags: Leadership Communication

    About leadercommunicator blog

    What does it take to be a leadercommunicator?

    The Grossman Group CEO and communications expert David Grossman shares his insights on the importance of meaningful leadership communication in today’s business climate. With high level tips on engagement and connection, insights into employee motivations and behavior, and firsthand stories from the frontlines of America’s leading companies.

    The leadercommunicator blog is instructive, entertaining, and a must-read for leaders, communicators, and leadercommunicators.

    Subscribe Here!


    8 Ways to Lead With Heart ebook
    12 Tips for Employers to navigate the future world of work
    David Grossman - The Relationship Between Corporate Culture and Performance in the WSJ