Do not ask this question if you want high employee morale
“How can I help you?”
You’d think this would be a great question to ask your employees. Surely, I’ve asked this question, as a CEO myself, to my own team countless of times.Turns out, I’m wrong.
The question, “How can I help you?” hurts employees more than it helps.
Let me explain.
The other week, I ran a workshop. One of the participants — a CEO — was struggling to get feedback from a particularly quiet employee at his company. He asked the other folks in the room for advice about it.
“What if I asked the employee, ‘How can I help you?’ Do you think that’s a good question to ask him to encourage him to speak up?” he pondered.
A few other executives nodded their heads. “Yeah that seems like a good idea,” they said.
Another workshop participant spoke up.
“I hate that question,” she shared candidly (and a bit sheepishly). “When my own direct manager asks me that, I never know what to say.”
Everyone was perplexed — myself included. How could asking to give help ever be a bad thing?
But as she explained, it clicked for me. Despite being well-intentioned, here are three reasons why “How can I help you?” is a terrible question to ask your employees: