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Elizabeth Fuss Arnott, SPHR  I have been working in Human Resources for 23 years. Since 2011, I have been certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).  I have a BA in English and a Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law from Tulane Law School. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband Luke and our cat, Poirot. I write about HR, non-profits, the art of managing people and Neurodiversity in the workplace. I'm available for employment, contract work, consulting, coaching and training virtually and in the Portland, OR area. Please email me at for more information. 

  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Arnott, SPHR

The Most Important Question to Ask Your Employees

Updated: Oct 14, 2018

I watched a new television show the other night. It was about a hospital that hired a new director, who comes in and makes radical moves to improve things. He fires unproductive staff and makes extreme changes to policies. But the thing he does that makes the most difference was nothing that extreme or radical.

He asks each employee "How can I help?" But he doesn't stop there. He then listens to what they have to say, and takes action based on their responses. He trusts their input because he knows they know what they need, better than he as the director knows. Suddenly, his employees are invested in succeeding and trust their leader to have their back and give them what they need to succeed.

Although most problems aren't going to be resolved in a 60 minute window, like the television show, it's exactly what all managers should be doing to get to needed resolution to process and performance issues. "How can I help?" Listen. Trust what your employees are saying. Take action.

Maybe Jeff wants a slight change in process to make things easier for him to do his job. Maybe Mandy needs a training class. Maybe Stan wants to share his ideas on how to make things better. Any answer your employees give is going to help you help them to be successful. Take the time to mindfully manage by asking how you can help. You won't regret it.


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