Sales managers are accustomed to answering questions. Right now, you might be fielding questions such as “When can we go back to the office?” or “Will certain team members still have their job in a few weeks?”

Answering questions is a key part of your job, but so is asking questions. By asking thoughtful questions of your team members, you can better understand how they’re coping with these tough times. You can also discover what they might need from you as a manager, says Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Lew’s four questions that will help you truly understand how your team is coping with work during COVID-19.

1. How would you describe your level of energy these days? With this question, Lew says you are taking the temperature and getting an overall read of how a remote employee is doing. Additionally, because you’re asking about “level of energy,” it gives the other person permission to share that they may feel worn thin and drained more than usual. You want the truthful answer of how they’re actually doing, so you can then accordingly support them as a manager.

Consider asking follow-up questions such as:

  • Have you been able to take time for yourself, in any way? How can I support you in that?
  • Are there any tasks or projects lately that feel more like a struggle than usual? How can I adjust things to help make that project more manageable right now?

2. What fears or trepidation do you have around the team and/or company, if any? If you’re nervous to ask this question, that’s okay, notes Lew. The only way you can allay fears in the team is if you know what they are in the first place. Giving your team space to admit what they’re worried about also reduces some of its ominous nature.

Consider asking these follow-up questions:

  • What can we communicate more often and more transparently, to help reduce the anxiety around X?
  • Is our plan for the next 45-60 days clear?

3. Do you feel equipped to do your job well? Leaders naturally care about performance. However, according to Lew, we can unintentionally hinder our team’s performance. This question uncovers how we may be accidentally getting in the way.

Consider asking your team:

  • Is it clear what needs to get done, and the level of quality that’s required for this work clear?
  • Am I being respectful of the amount of time you have to accomplish something? Can I be doing a better job of protecting your time?
  • Have I given you enough context about why this work is important, who the work is for, or any other information that is crucial to do your job well?

4. What can I do to help create an environment for you to do your best work, while remote? Of all the questions to ask remote employees, this might be the most paramount. Be sure to ask at least a few follow-up questions to know how you can translate your team’s answers into action, recommends Lew.

Follow-up questions include:

  • What time of day, while working remotely, are you most productive? Is there anything I can do to ensure you get that time to during the day to focus on your work?
  • What feels confusing right now? How can I improve the clarity or cadence of my communication?
  • What can I adjust in my own management style? Does my tone come off the wrong way? Do I follow-up too frequently with you, not giving you space to breathe?

Leaders often fixate on giving the answers. However, don’t overlook the power of asking questions. You can show you’re serious about supporting your sales team however you can.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Claire Lew is CEO of Know Your Team. She has been published in Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, CNBC, Inc., and Fortune, among others. Lew speaks internationally on how to create more open, honest work environments and taught as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Northwestern University.