Ask the right question to receive the right answer.
Ask the right question to receive the right answer.

Ask This One Question To Keep Your Employees Happy

In a previous post I elaborated on what a meaningful leader looks like, with the first and most important element the ability and vulnerability to ask questions.

The inability to ask meaningful questions is at the core of your best employees leaving. A happy workplace is one where there is open and honest communication, and that can only happen by asking questions.

Our biggest fear

It sounds simple, yet for most authority figures this is one of the hardest things to do. Why? Because asking questions means you don’t know all the answers; and not knowing all the answers means that you’re not meeting the expectations of the people that put you in that position in the first place. And that ultimately means you risk losing your position, or worse, your reputation and the respect of your employees.

And as human beings, our biggest fear, even bigger than death, is our fear of rejection and loneliness.

But in reality, it can not be further from the truth. Every employer that has ever asked me, or anyone I’ve known, a thoughtful question, has earned, rather than lost, respect. And I don’t know of anyone that has been demoted or fired because they asked questions.

The truth is, people love to be asked. Anything. “What do you like to eat?” to “What is your pet hate?” to “What do you think of this?”. If you want to get people to like you, all you have to do is ask them a few questions. So in order to be liked as a leader, why not do the same?

The single most important question to ask

But granted, it might be hard to change this habit, so if I had to choose only one, the most essential question to ask that will keep your employees happy if asked continuously and authentically, is:

“What do you need?”

What do you need to do your job or make it easier?

What do you need to stop worrying?

What do you need from your collueges?

What do you need to be happy?

What do you need to know more of?

What do you need to stop you from leaving?

What do you need from me to be a better employer?

Powerful questions lead to empowering answers. But the real question is — are you brave enough to ask?


A meaningful leader’s main role is to fulfil the needs of the people that follow him, and to keep them on the road towards the higher vision of the organization.

And you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Originally published on Medium: