Whether you manage a caregiving team or run the company, you are probably dealing with the following three challenges more than you’d like to admit:

1) Why do some of my best people quit out of the blue?

2) How can I improve the culture here?

3) Am I giving the “keepers” the right kind of recognition?

To be sure, these issues can be frustrating and solution-resistant. But one company has found a remarkably simple way to cut through the thicket. And the answer is — drumroll, please — ask direct questions. Well, it’s a bit more involved than that. But not much.

David Niu is the founder of consulting firm TinyPulse. He’s also the mastermind behind such crazy talk. In a nutshell, his advice is to ask employees one question via email, at regular intervals.

Here are three typical inquiries:

  • Name one process that, were it eliminated, would make you more productive.
  • How transparent is management?
  • Can you list for me the factors that could contribute to your doing the best work of your life?

By now, some of you may be thinking that this approach is naïve at best. Others might be wondering what kind of namby-pamby, Kumbaya-sing-along nonsense is being promoted here? Niu would counter that anonymously polling employees one question at a time is exactly the way to make sure acorn-size staff-management problems don’t grow into mighty oaks.

He’d add that it’s not enough to simply ask these sorts of questions. You must also set aside some time to read, categorize and prioritize the replies — and develop a plan of action. In a hectic environment like senior living, such follow-up might seem way too time-consuming. But it’s essential to creating a more attractive workplace, he insists.

Will this approach make all your staff-related problems disappear? Hardly. But it just might help you discover blind spots within your organization and take corrective action.

At the very least, it would appear to be a better alternative than being the last to know.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.