A key goal for every manager is building a happy, productive team. One technique I use when building teams is asking folks on the team the following three questions:

  • Q1. What do you do, and like doing?
  • Q2. What do you do, and don’t like doing?
  • Q3. What do you not do, but would like to start doing?

I ask folks to give these questions some thought and ideally send me a bulletized list of items before we meet in person to discuss them. I explain that I will try my best to minimize the items that fall under Q2, and maximize opportunities for items that fall under Q3.

Even though this technique is extremely simple, I have found it to be a great tool to anchor and guide career conversations. It provides just enough structure to facilitate the conversation, for a very low overhead cost.

Clearly, this technique also gives me the ability to intelligently balance responsibilities within the organization. Very often the old adage that “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” proves to be true, which of course makes everybody in the org happier. And happy people are productive people.