Leadership Trust

10 do you know questions to ask and answer to understand your team members

Being a manager or leader is challenging, understanding what motivates your team members and team is essential but knowing the triggers and the reasons why can be hard to extract and ask.

Here are the ten do you know questions that will help develop you as a manager, your connections with your team members and a way to connect your colleagues around you to bring better departmental bonds.

Scroll down below the questions for the who, why, how and when to use these questions.

Anonymous Career Advice

How to handle back to back meetings and stressed staff around you

This week, the anonymous career advice form received two questions that were very similar. Being in back to back meetings are taking up all of the work time and two frustrated individuals are facing an uphill battle to actually get their work done and in one case cannot even grab a lunch break. 

Dear focus, I’m finding work impossible, Constantly in back to back meetings, I am struggling to even find time to eat let and sometimes struggle to find time for a toilet break. I am never getting any of my work done and the icing on the cake; everyone is stressed and feel there is no way out.

This is something that really is unacceptable and I feel for you.
I have been there personally in a previous role and it is something that took  me a few weeks to tackle and get out of the other side. 

A trigger warning; this is going to take you 30 extra minutes to review and run through, I suggest doing this when you are fresh and can concentrate like it is deep work. 

Exercise 1: Take to list out the meetings and which ones to: 

  • Keep – essential and have to be a part and running ok 
  • Kill – unuseful, no one is benefitting and is wasting your time 
  • Cure – somewhat useful, can be optimised, review and optimise the parts that can be changed, reduce down the amount of chatter and focus around more actionable agendas 
Company Culture

The Department Joker

joker card
Photo by Akshay Anand on

There is an art to building a great set of individuals to make a great team or department.

As a department lead you are ultimately responsible for building out a set of teams that can deliver a good working environment where people feel safe, valued and they have played their own part and recognised for it.

Juggling Act

One of the most challenging aspects of this is balancing personalities, abilities and interpersonal connections.

Informal Roles

Everyone had a job role but unlikely there is an informal and unwritten role assigned to them within a team or department.

Looking back two decades of my career, there is one role that is often overlooked but undervalued.

The role? The team or department joker.

The Role Of The Department Joker

The joker often is the smartest on their feet, witty and can create a relaxed and humour-led environment.
When the environment can be tense or stretched, many colleagues look towards this person to lighten the mood or play their part in releasing the tension or offering a rest bite.

Like a hidden leader, there are some environments where this role can be overlooked. In many traditional setups, their role is downplayed, misinterpreted or dismissed.

I have found that the joker or humorous role plays a vital connector within the team and despite the odd side note or comment actually can align teams and drive them forward.

Company culture can thrive with the right blend of people including department jokers.

Develop The Joker

If you work closely with the joker, they are smart, they learn quickly and typically want to learn. They are usually good communicators and can gain cut through where others struggle. Learn from them, develop them, leverage their core skills.

In the remote world of work, the joker is harder to have an impact and release tensions but it is important as a leader you know how to keep engaged and playing to their strengths.

As I recommended in writing a letter to your team the value that the joker brings should be called out with praise within the letter and in the in-jokes should be enjoyed department-wide.

Maybe A Secret Weapon

Maybe the secret weapon within your company is a specialist, maybe actually it is the joker, maybe they act as the glue where if there weren’t with your firm anymore you’d potentially lose that extra layer in company culture.

Moving forward, I recommend you embrace your department joker, you work with them to help them develop their skills, help you learn from them around communication and insights and you create a team that can thrive with this person.

Sign up to the focus newsletter, emailing you every Monday morning with one leadership action to take the week ahead


If you are looking for more information on the hidden leader, this video for Isolated Talks will help you.