By April Loebick
Getting to Know you…
It’s a novel concept, getting to know people by asking them questions and engaging in meaningful conversation. But how do you get started?
Start from the very beginning. Recruiters and hiring managers should already be asking questions (that’s the whole interviewing thing), so I’ll skip over that for now and dive right into onboarding. As part of your onboarding paperwork, you can have new employees fill out some getting-to-know-you-questionnaires that ask general questions like:
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- What’s something exciting happening in your life right now?
- What are some of your life goals?
The answers to these questions can be sent out to the entire team/company (depending on size). Just make sure that your new hires know that these are going to be sent out to the group, so they can give as much or as little as they wish.
You might also have them fill out a list of favorites like favorite food, music, games, restaurants, etc. Not only does this show that you’re interested in them and their lives outside of work, but these answers also become a great resource when you’re looking to maybe purchase appreciation gifts.
From the very beginning, you are telling new employees that you care about them as people. You’re attentive to their lives and interests, not just what they can do to help your company. It’s the first step towards letting them know that their whole selves matter, thus creating a foundation of safety.
“Informal” Trend Continuation
But you can’t stop here. Engagement is never done. It must be renewed week to week, day to day, project to project, over and over again. So how do you handle this Sisyphian task?
Sometimes you gotta shake things up. Sometimes, you may even want to get silly.
Weekly, company-wide questions are one way to do this and to keep things interesting. At GetUWired, we’ve instituted what we call the “Random Question of the Week” (RQotW). It’s a 1-2 question Google Forms survey that gets sent to everyone, and the questions asked are truly random. Some past examples include:
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- Describe your grandparents. Who were they as people?
- Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
- Imagine it’s the zombie apocalypse. Which three GetUWired employees would you want for your zombie-killing squad?
- What’s the grossest food you’ve ever had to eat to be polite?
- If you had a pet possum, what would you name it?
Answering is 100% voluntary. Anyone who answers has the option of attaching their name to their answer entry, so that there’s differing levels of anonymity to fit the comfort level of anyone participating.
And many many more.
15Five does something similar, but using their Slack channels. They have what’s called a “Question Friday” where a chosen 15Fiver acts as the “Question Master” and comes up with the questions to ask every Friday for a month. To learn more about 15Five and their own journey to creating a culture of questions, I highly encourage you to check out the Best-Self Management podcast from co-founders David Hassell and Shane Metcalf. (https://www.15five.com/podcast/)
In fact, 15Five has a couple of ebooks filled with questions you can ask your team!
Does your company have any formalized question-asking rituals? Are there any questions that you like to ask coworkers to get to know them better?
In case you missed it, here's Creating a Culture of Questions - Part 1 ("How are you? How are you really?").
About the Author
April Loebick is the Recruitment & Retention Specialist for GetUWired, an internet marketing firm located in Dahlonega (Duh-lawn-uh-guh), GA – about an hour and a half north of Atlanta. GetUWired is a full-service digital marketing agency with a team of 45 web developers, graphic designers, marketers, copywriters, and more who are dedicated to helping small businesses succeed all from a large cabin office in the middle of nowhere. She's also an HR for HR steering committee member and community steward for the Rural HR and Talent Acquisition groups.