Last week, we held our 15th Annual Companywide retreat. Each year (except 2020), we gather for a day as a team. We celebrate where we’ve come from and align ourselves around where we’re going as an organization.

We have several Q&A times throughout the day where team members can submit questions anonymously on notecards in a box. Over the years, the questions have been countless and widespread.

Receiving and addressing questions related to strategy, facilities, benefits, most impactful books, areas we’re excited or concerned about provides many benefits.

Here are three distinct benefits of providing a safe environment for team members to ask questions:

1. Leaders gain a sense of what’s on the minds of the team. Listening to 30-40 questions throughout the day provides a spectrum of what’s on the minds of our team members.

2. Leaders have the chance to vulnerably and authentically answer the questions. Sharing what you as a leader are excited about or concerned about is incredibly valuable to the team. For example, last week, a question was asked about maternity leave benefits. The team was wondering whether we had considered adding benefits for maternity leave. Candidly, we answered, “no, it hasn’t been discussed, but it is something worth revisiting.”

3. Questions lead to context, and context leads to better questions. So when we create a culture where people ask questions, team members grow, and the questions get even better!!

The space to ask questions and the willingness to provide answers reinforces our belief that we care about the things the team is thinking about. And, that we believe that with more information, the leaders will be better equipped to lead and make decisions.

Altogether, hearing what’s on the team’s mind, speaking authentically to the questions asked, providing context, and expressing that we care are all game-changers.

I can’t recommend creating space for Q&A sessions and establishing a “question asking” culture enough. Weekly, monthly, quarterly… it’ll take time to shift the expectation. Be patient, and the questions will start flowing!

Cheers to being more of an “open book” for our teams!!

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