“How do you feel”? No one ever asked that question of employees in previous generations. But in the new year, mood measurement promises to be a hot topic for HR leaders as they try to keep employees fully engaged and productive.

Most of us have heard the expression, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In the present-day workplace culture, however, The reality is that people don’t care as much about a company, if they don’t think the company cares about them. That’s why it’s becoming more important for organizations like yours to understand how to handle performance management and assess the mood and emotions of employees.

The mood and emotions of employees affect the overall productivity of the organization. An organization that devotes time and resources to improving the mood and emotions of the employees will attract and retain better employees.

How does an organization collect data and develop systems to let employees know they care about how they feel? Many organizations try to use surveys to capture this data, but the “traditional survey process is very slow, very top-down and not very action oriented”

Per the HR Institute, some organizations have found a few ways to improve the survey-taking process. First, increase the frequency of the survey-taking process so that it is a regular part of the organization’s operations. Second, develop more advanced ways of capturing data when employees answer questions, like assessing body language and voice patterns in one-on-one meetings.

But what all the approaches have in common is the need to ask good questions. As IBM founder Thomas J. Watson said, “The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.” Your leaders must be willing to invest time in asking questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in developing the employees personally and professionally.

10 Questions to Ask Employees

Good leaders ask great questions that inspire others to dream more, think more, learn more, do more, and become more. Here are some of the most important questions leaders can ask to gauge how well employees are doing:

  1. What Do You Think? This is the question our founder John C. Maxwell most often asks. It’s a simple question used to gather information, confirm a leader’s intuition, assess someone’s judgment or leadership qualities, teach other people how the leader thinks, and reveal how they process decisions. Asking this question elevates everyone’s ability to thrive and empower the leaders to gather essential information that otherwise might not be offered.
  2. How Can I Serve You? When a leader asks employees this question, it immediately communicates that the leader values and respects them. A true leader is first a servant. Asking this question forces a leader to remain humble by serving other people. It also provides an opportunity for greater collaboration to occur. It’s the leader’s responsibility to make sure the team members have what they need to succeed and get their work done. If leaders who aren’t asking employees how best to serve them may just be holding them up.
  3. What Do I Need to Communicate? Success in communication comes from knowing the context more than the content. A leader asks this question to his team members to try and find out who the people are, what the situation is, what happened before, and how they can connect and help them. These three specific internal questions can help discover better answers to this larger question:
    • Who should I be talking to?
    • What is the most important thing?
    • What is the call to action?
  4. Did We Exceed Expectations? By asking this question, a leader can learn if someone feels as if they didn’t deserve what they were promised, and they can also learn where improvements can be made for the future. One of the most important things a leader can do is make sure they and the organization are delivering on what they promised. Regularly asking this question ensures future success—both for the leader and the organization.
  5. What Did You Learn? This question helps everyone better understand and connect with the people around them. It should be asked regularly in a team setting because it keeps team members sharp and growing. It prompts the leader and people to evaluate their experiences and make an assessment. A leader understands that experience isn’t the best teacher—evaluated experience is.
  6. Did We Add Value? A leader’s goal should be to add value daily to those around them. This should not just be true at the workplace, but in every area of life for a leader. Adding value to other people provides a firm foundation to achieve success in other areas. A leader asks this question of their team members to ensure they stay focused on adding value to the organization, the other teams, and their clients or customers.
  7. What Do I Need to Know? This question alerts leaders to problems and the current climate of the office. It allows team members to give the leader an overview of a situation, provide vital information, and prioritize what they think to be the most important pieces of information.
  8. How Do We Make the Most of This Opportunity? A leader must continually think about, and ask others to think about, ways to make their opportunities better. Asking this question helps determine the best ways to maximize opportunities. It sets up a leader and his or her team for greater influence, innovation, and profitability.
  9. How Are the Numbers? Knowing the numbers allows a leader to keep a pulse on areas of success and areas for needed improvements. A leader should want to know the numbers–even if he or she won’t like them. Even with a good vision and a good team, an organization will never be successful if they aren’t thinking about the numbers. This question does three things for the team:
    • It keeps their heads in the game by keeping them accountable.
    • It demonstrates that every person on the team in charge of performance management needs to keep their eye on performance indicators.
    • It drives the team members to perform better together.

    Numbers count. They tell a story. They let you know what the score is. They show trends. They reveal weaknesses. They are tangible evidence of how well the leader and the team is doing.

  10. What Am I Missing? When a leader asks this question, it displays a willingness to learn from others. Two of the fastest ways to connect with another person are to ask questions and to ask for help. Most people are willing to offer their perspective if asked, and they feel valued when they can offer their wisdom and experience. A leader must try to create an environment where they can ask the people around them this question.

The best leaders measure employee moods through powerful questions like these—formally and informally. Effective leaders in your organization can practice better performance management to evaluate and improve the mood of employees by asking questions–and genuinely caring about the answers.

Asking more questions reduces the likelihood of making the wrong assumptions about other team members, the operation of the company, and the company’s customers. Good questions truly do help you master the employee mood measurement mood trend and position you and your leaders for success for years to come.


  • Haak, Tom. “Employee mood measurement trends.” HR Trend Institute. N.p., 05 Dec. 2016. Web. 13 Jan. 2017.
  • Adapted from Maxwell, John C. Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. New York: Center Street, 2014. Print.