Believe it or not, a question that is seemingly helpful can be really paralysing.
I read the intro to Inc's article about management and didn't quite believe that asking, 'How can I help you?' could be in any way damaging. It's an offer of support, right?But it's so open-ended.
There may be much better ways to get the information you're actually looking for -- which is, 'How can I improve my behaviours and actions as a manager to help you do better?'
That's a little daunting to put to someone, so the article suggests ways you can pick an angle or detail that will facilitate a productive chat. To really get the best feedback, your people might need a little nudge and a safe space where it's OK to give you the gift of criticism.
Here are some examples of specific questions you could ask… “Do you think I’ve been a little micromanaging with how I’ve been following up on projects?” “Have I been putting too much on your plate and do you need some breathing room?” “Am I giving you enough information to do your job well?” “Could I be doing a better job outlining the vision and direction for where we’re headed?” “Have I not been as cognizant of reasonable timelines, like I should have?” “Am I interrupting you too much during the day with meetings and requests?”