Why your new employee is scared to ask questions (and how to fix it)

Getting employees to ask questions

It almost always energizes the company when a new employee joins the team. There’s new opportunities for collaboration, brilliant ideas floating around, and another smiling face to see on Monday morning (ok – maybe not the last one!)

When a new employee starts, you’ve got one problem: they need be trained quickly.

While it’s not possible for an employee to everything about your company, they should be expected to know a good amount of workplace etiquette, have a solid understanding of customer service, and be able to handle a team project.

To bridge the gap between what they know and what you want them to know is where a solid training program comes in.

But even with good training, employees are going to have questions.

And that’s ok. Questions are an opportunity for you to fix your training. One employee asking a question means the next employee won’t have to ask the same one. Hooray for productivity!

Unfortunately, you’ve got to figure out a way for employees to ask questions. And that’s one of the hardest parts of improving your training.

Not to mention, new employees are nervous for 8 hours straight. Especially during their first few days.

Why are your employees so nervous? You’d think it would be an exciting time for them? They’ve got a new job!

Yes, it is exciting. I’m sure they couldn’t be more thrilled. But, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be open with you from the get go.

Sometimes, pulling questions out of a new employee can be like pulling teeth.

Here’s why your employees won’t ask questions:

1. They’re nervous

Employees mull questions over in their head all the time. But, they never pull the trigger and ask them. It’s because they’re nervous. They don’t want to be embarrassed in front of their boss and co-workers.

2. There are such things as stupid questions

To an employee, there are stupid questions. These tend to be questions like “Where are the bathrooms?”, “When can I take my lunch?”, and “How do I get to the accounts payable office?”. But, they need to be asked. Employees resist asking questions like this because they have absolutely nothing to do with their job. Therefore, they think they’re stupid.

3. They want everyone on their team

The last thing new employees want is to irritate their co-workers. Being the pesky new employee means they’ll be asking questions all. the. time. Instead, they avoid it to become buddy-buddy with everyone on the team (even if co-workers let them know they can “ask you anything.”)

4. They don’t know what to ask

Sometimes employees are stumped. When faced with a lot of information at once, it takes time to process and adjust. Early in the game, it’s likely they don’t know what to ask – or, they may not have questions at that time.

5. They’re afraid being honest will hurt their chances of success

Some employees don’t want to share what they’re truly feeling because being honest can help and hurt. It can bring your team down and it can ignite passion in your employees. If employees play the honesty card too early, they fear it may reflect poorly on them. Plus, they may not get the promotion they’re hoping for if they let you know how they truly feel.

See how important it is to make your employee’s first day stellar? It makes them better prepared to tackle their next project. Plus, you eliminate a lot of the first day jitters if you can figure out how to get your employees to ask questions.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had some strategies to get your employees talking?

Conveniently, there’s a couple right here in this article. And they’re all quick and easy to implement. You’ll have an improved training program, plus a better rapport with your new hire. And who doesn’t want that?

How to get your employee to ask (lots) of questions:

1. Be the change you want to see in the world

A culture of curiosity and questioning assumptions is tough to maintain – especially if it’s a major cultural shift. But, as Ghandi always said, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Your questions pique curiosity. They get other team members thinking. And pretty soon, they’ll ask their own questions – either to challenge or support you.

2. Make time for employee 1-on-1’s and/or group settings

Have you thought about changing the setting your employees are in? Some team members are more honest in a 1-on-1 setting, while others speak-up in a group setting. 1-on-1’s are typically more effective because employees won’t have to worry about backlash or embarrassment from others.

3. Get team members to be supportive

Not every team member is a fan of the new guy because it takes away from their time to get work done and they may get annoyed. This reflects poorly on your team member and stops the new guy from ever asking questions. To counteract this, make sure your team is on-board with helping out. Designate someone in each department to be the question-guy. This person should be friendly and willing to help others.

4. Compile a new hire FAQ

A list of questions from past new hires not only eliminates the need to answer a bundle of questions, but it could prompt new ones. Simply keep a running Google Doc of questions and have your team members review it to make sure it’s up-to-date.

As you can see, these are small changes. I’m not asking you to make major shifts in company policies or how you on-board new team members. These strategies are quick and easy. They’ve worked for us and hopefully they’ll work for you.

How have you fostered a culture of questions at your company? Let us know in the comments below.

Speaking of questions – have you tried making a quiz on QuizPoo yet? It’s the most engaging way to train your team.