Can an Employee Ask Too Many Questions?

Asking questions is a normal part of everyone’s workday. In fact, you want employees who are naturally interested, inquisitive and curious. But, dealing with constant barrages of questions can make it difficult to get your own job done.

A key part of your job as a manager is providing clear, direct feedback. But you wouldn’t be doing that job well unless at the same time, you were helping your employees think on their own, troubleshoot challenging situations and grow into self-sufficient leaders.

How can you strike the right balance?

Find the Root Cause

If you have an employee who asks too many questions, determine why they can’t find answers on their own. Then you can develop a plan to help them get the information they need.

  • Set up a meeting to discuss the issue. Mention to an individual that you’ve noticed they have a lot of questions and you would like to help them. Don’t be critical. You don’t want to discourage them from asking important questions in the future, just the unnecessary ones.
  • Find out why they have so many questions. Don’t be surprised if they are uncomfortable volunteering this information at first; they may feel it would make them look inadequate. It may take some time. Possible causes could include insufficient training, unclear work instructions or simple insecurity.

Focus on Solutions

Your action plan will depend on the root cause. You may need to:

  • Provide additional training. If an employee doesn’t understand a procedure, tool or other aspect of their job, your next step may be to reevaluate and improve their ongoing training.
  • Improve work instructions. Tweak the amount and quality of the instructions given at the onset of a task or project.
  • Allow more autonomy. In some cases, employees ask too many questions because they lack the authority to make their own decisions. Emphasize trust. Your employee may be worried that if they do the wrong thing, they will be penalized.
  • Schedule question times. Set aside a few minutes a day, or a couple of time slots a week, to meet with an employee and address their questions. Keep these meetings short, and focus on the most critical issues. Have an employee keep an ongoing list of questions – and ask them to contact you about them outside meeting times only if the situation is urgent. (Note: Be sure that you clearly define “urgent.”)

Other helpful steps include:

  • Asking them what they think. Before you automatically dole out an answer, try asking: “What do you think?” Even if an employee has nothing in mind, this will at least get the conversation moving.
  • Reinforcing improvement with recognition and praise. If an employee displays the kind of behavior you want in addressing their own questions, be sure to recognize them for it. Keep your praise specific and genuine. With enough positive reinforcement, your employee will feel more confident in the things they do every day without feeling the need to consult you first.

PrideStaff Fresno offers hiring, training and workforce development solutions tailored to meet your ongoing needs. Contact us today so we can help you address your current talent management priorities.

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