If you’ve recently joined your team at work, it can be a challenge to speak up in a new environment for the first time. Alternatively, if you’ve worked at your company for a while now, you may avoid contributing during group meetings because you know your team and work like the back of your hand. Whether it’s your first group meeting or your fiftieth, asking questions in a group setting will promote open lines of communication and an improved flow of information within your team.

Why it’s important to ask questions in group meetings

If you want to be an asset to your team or a leader in your industry, being well informed will help you get there. By asking questions, you’ll be kept in the loop and feel well equipped to achieve a workflow that prioritizes the needs of your manager and team. Additionally, asking questions in a group setting will nurture a healthy dialogue within your team, strengthen your connections with colleagues, and encourage engagement. When you raise your hand and speak up, you’ll motivate others to be active participants as well.

Prepare in advance

Have a meeting agenda organized in advance to give everyone the opportunity to prepare questions or answers for the team!

7 types of questions to ask your boss in a group meeting 

1 Questions for clarity

Picture this: your company is growing rapidly, your team is beginning to tackle new projects, and you’re constantly having to think outside the box. In this scenario, you can ask your manager to clarify expectations and work through the details of specific tasks so everyone’s on the same page. Try asking questions like:

  • What should we prioritize as we get started on this project? There may be a learning curve when starting a new task, but having your manager clarify their expectations will provide a great launch point for your team. 
  • What’s your vision for the project? You’ll be better able to focus on your short term goals for any project if your manager provides a clear vision for the final result.
  • What are your expectations of the team for this initiative? Perhaps your manager has a specific goal for the team, rather than for the project. It’ll be much easier to develop a game plan and stay on the same page once you’re aware of the overall objective.

2 Questions for alignment 

Help tie your teammates’ individual contributions to the company’s long term business objectives by asking your manager questions like:

  • What company goals are you trying to achieve and how can our team help you achieve them? Help your own team align their mission with your manager’s vision by asking your boss about their own work and goals. 
  • What specific goal defines our team’s success in your eyes? Having a clear answer to this question can help you and your colleagues develop a plan to meet your boss’ definition of success. For example, if your manager defines your team’s success as your ability to meet an outlined sales target in Q4, your team can then develop a plan to accomplish this task. 

3 Questions for career growth

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about career growth or advancement in a group setting! While you shouldn’t use the time to ask about your personal development, don’t shy away from asking for your manager’s advice on how your team can grow together. Ask questions such as:

  • What can we do as a team to grow our experiences? Perhaps your manager thinks your team can break down communication barriers and boost performance by participating in more team-building exercises. Or maybe they believe your team could benefit from meeting more regularly with other departments within the organization. 
  • How can we motivate each other during challenging times? Maintaining a growth mindset during stressful periods is difficult. Showing that you’re keen to learn how you can boost morale during challenging moments is a sign that you care to be adaptable and effective, even when the going gets tough. 

4 Questions to inspire new ideas 

Challenge your team to step outside of their comfort zone and tackle new ideas. Some examples of questions to inspire innovation during a group meeting include: 

  • What are your aspirations for this team and what can we do to help you achieve them? Your boss likely chose you and your teammates for your respective roles because you each bring something different to the table. Learn how you can best work with purpose and direction as you bring your diverse talents together. 
  • What’s your dream project for our team? Challenge your manager to be idealistic by asking them what major team accomplishment would make them incredibly proud. Once you’ve achieved everything your team is working towards, collectively strive to get closer to that milestone. 

5 Questions about productivity 

Show your manager that you’re keen to improve your effectiveness as a team by asking questions such as: 

  • How can we be more productive as a team? If you’re a part of a high-performing group, there are likely many things on the go at once. Having a manager with extensive experience in your field give their own productivity hacks can be a game changer!
  • How can we go above and beyond on our next project? Perhaps you’re meeting expectations, but not exceeding them. Or maybe you and your teammates struggle to finish each project at the last minute and have some serious issues with time management. As a leader, your manager should be able to identify the necessary skills you’ll have to develop to excel in the future. 

6 Questions to gain feedback 

Teams that receive feedback together, grow together! Here are two feedback-based questions you can ask your manager at your next meeting:

  • Can you identify one area where you wish we were more effective? Ask for constructive group feedback during your next team meeting. You may learn a new and improved way of approaching a task that you hadn’t considered, or have a new skill to develop as a team in the coming months. 
  • How did our team perform in the last cycle? Straightforward questions lead to straightforward answers. If your manager feels like you underperformed in a specific area, it’s important to have that conversation so you can focus on improving in the future. Alternatively, if your manager was thrilled with your accomplishments during the last cycle, knowing this will motivate you and your teammates to continue the great work.

7 Team-building questions

Your boss will have direct insight into each of your passions, strengths, and areas for improvement. During your next group meeting, include a few team-building questions that’ll create trust and build rapport within the group, like:

  • What do you value most about this team? Ask your manager why they like working with your department specifically, and encourage them to let others chime in as well. 
  • What did you think each of us did well during our last project? By asking your manager to highlight the great things each member of the team has accomplished, you’ll leave everyone feeling valued for their hard work. Asking for positive feedback towards the end of the meeting will have everyone leaving the conversation on a good note. 

4 tips for how to approach your boss to ask a question 

1 Prepare in advance

You’re less likely to speak up in a group setting when you aren’t prepared. To combat any nerves, make a detailed list of questions you want to ask ahead of time so you can stay engaged during the actual meeting. Ask teammates that will also be present to give feedback on your prepared questions. If needed, you could even practice asking your questions in advance. 

2 Ask important questions

Here’s a tip: if a quick Google search could provide you with an answer to your question, you shouldn’t be asking your manager. Ask questions that are specific, detailed, and timely during a group meeting. If you have questions that are only relevant to your role, follow-up with your manager in an email or ask them during your next one-on-one

3 Show you’re interested in their answer 

Don’t just ask questions to participate in the conversation. Engage throughout the meeting and take notes to show that you’re interested in taking action following the group meeting. Better yet, use Fellow to take meeting notes that keep track of decisions and action items

4 Find the right time to ask

Wait for a natural point in the meeting to ask your questions and raise your points. Don’t interrupt others, but speak up when the topic is relevant to any of your prepared questions. If the subject doesn’t come up, you can always wait until the end of the meeting or save your questions for next time. 

Ask good questions to build a better team

If you’re new to the team, you may be nervous to ask questions out of fear of seeming naive. If you’ve been working with your team for a while, you may not be comfortable asking questions because you might feel like you should already have all the answers. Remember that there’s no such thing as a silly question! Your manager and teammates are there for you to lean on and to answer your questions as you transition into a new role or tackle any new project. Asking your manager a few good questions during every group meeting will ensure that you’re always up to date on their vision for your team. Start building a better team today by asking a meaningful question tomorrow!