Knowing and understanding what your nonprofit employees are thinking is usually a difficult task. It can be a challenge to extract information from them to see beneath the surface: what they’re feeling, what challenges they’re having, what they feel anxious about.
Even though their expression might look calm, it’s hard to truly know what’s going on. Instead of guessing or waiting for your mind-reading abilities to miraculously kick in, you can use a proven method for receiving honest and valuable feedback: asking the right feedback questions. Doing so in your next employee performance review or check-in can help you gage engagement and improve morale. Both are essential parts of success in the nonprofit sphere, which relies so heavily on personal motivation to make social change.
1. What are your main priorities for next week?
This question is great for deriving information on what their priorities and goals are. Instead of just seeing how productive your employees are, you can see how they manage their time and whether they are working on the right tasks that benefit your nonprofit’s overall mission.
When the answer is correct, that’s a good sign that your nonprofit’s management is doing well in communicating the goals of the team or organization. Unexpected responses might be a good opportunity to realign the employee with your organization’s mission and to inform you of problems that you might’ve been unaware of.
2. Is there anything that keeps you up at night?
Sleep is a fundamental requirement for effective cognitive processing and productivity. As the leader of a team devoted to the difficult task of making social impact, you want to make sure your employees feel secure enough to do their work at the highest standard.
If your employees are constantly worried or stressed out when handling different operations in your nonprofit, figuring this out through this question is a good way to tackle these problems before they become detrimental.
3. Are you impacting the people around you?
People have a natural tendency to be very me-focused. By having this self-centric approach, it can make it difficult for your employees to be aware of any negative impacts they might have on others, and it is also contradictory to your nonprofit’s mission.
By asking this question, you can make your employees think of the way they act around work and how their co-workers might perceive them. This self-inquiry is a great factor in improving people’s behaviors and align them with the greater vision of your organization.
4. Do you feel valued by your team? Why or why not?
Sometimes, appreciation is all we need to make us perform at our best. Without this simple gesture, employees can sometimes feel like their work has no impact on the company.
This question allows your employees to think upon their successes and triumphs and to share that with you and the rest of the nonprofit’s team. If this question brings up some questions of self-doubt that are unwarranted, you can step in to offer your own recognition of their successes.
For a nonprofit, especially, your entire team should feel like each member is an important cog in pushing forward with an organization’s mission and goals. If not, there might be an issue there to further investigate in order to re-align the employee.
5. What personal aspirations are you working on and how can we support you?
People seek out fulfillment and support. A lot of times, people will help nonprofits not only because of the social impact it offers, but also because it’s a great platform to build skills on.
If you’re willing to support your employees with their extraneous projects, they are more likely to complete their responsibilities with more enthusiasm and zeal. Especially in flexible businesses that are more results-oriented than structure-oriented, this question can add a lot of insights to your team morale. If you’re willing to work with them to gain the skills they want to develop, you’ll likely get a more enthusiastic employee from it.
6. Who do you look up to, whether it’s at this company or elsewhere?
Leadership doesn’t just come from titles. The answer to this question can show you who is truly invested in the organization.For a nonprofit to succeed, everyone needs to feel recognized and motivated. Let your employees know that they are someone that others look up to, and applaud them for their behavior.
7. What do you think about your meetings? How can we make them more productive?
This is a great way to address time efficiency, especially since meetings can be long and unproductive if done in the wrong way. That costs you both time and money, something that nonprofits sorely need.
Limiting the number of people who needs to attend can make your meetings more efficient. It can also mean on-boarding new members in different ways that aren’t as personnel-intensive.
8. What can we do better as a company, in your opinion?
You’d be surprised with the range of answers that can come in from this question, ranging from better organization to newer initiatives related to your nonprofit. You don’t have to act on every answer, but make sure that your employee knows that they’re being acknowledged and that you encourage more great ideas from them in the future.
9. What’s a book you would like to read (that you don’t already own) to further your own professional development and satisfaction?
When an employee gets stuck or asks a question, it poses a good opportunity to suggest a book that can teach them more about that specific area. Asking this question is a great way to see what skills they want to develop within your organization, and what it would mean to them.
10. On a scale from 1 to 10, where are you in terms of personal energy? If you wanted to move up a number, what would you need to make that happen?
Employees who feel healthy and energetic usually take less time to do more things. They’re also happier and a lot more pleasant to be around. This question encourages self-awareness around your employees so that they can suggest an actionable task that you can support.
Good luck as you work to boost morale in your nonprofit!