It’s useful to have a set of powerful questions that stimulate interesting conversations at work that promote clarity and understanding.
Questions become powerful when they’re focused on what one CAN do (present, future) rather than what one COULD HAVE done (past).
Choose a few of these questions for your next conversation with your staff, individually or as a team, and see what you learn.
A REMINDER: your tone of voice, intentions and trust affect the way these questions “land” on someone else’s ear. If you respect peoples’ answers without judgement or other negative repercussions, you will usually elicit open, honest answers. If you judge, you’ll usually elicit answers people think you want. If you regularly are “surprised” by things at work, contemplate whether or not you’re open to everyone’s truth or merely the truth you want. Check your tone of voice, trust and intentions before asking anyone pointed questions.
Questions on Thinking
- What are you/we assuming about the project?
- What does success look like?
- What does failure look like?
- What do you/we expect will happen?
- What’s the best that could happen?
Questions on Emotions
- What’s the worst that could happen (for a project, etc)?
- What frustrates you at work?
- What do you fear at work?
- What motivates you?
- What inspires you?
- What makes projects fun? Boring?
Questions on Behavior
- What team behavior supports you best? (encouragement, ideas, support?)
- Do you always feel free to do your best? If yes/no, feel free to elaborate
- What constrains or limits you at work?
- What do you want to learn?
- How might you double your effectiveness?
- What should we (on the team) do differently? (for ex, stop blame, criticisms, being judgmental…)
These questions facilitate engaging discussions and explore how you and your team members feel during a project. They explore what works and what doesn’t. It’s always good to know what empowers people, as well as what limits them — and the limits can often be adjusted. For instance, one of my clients, a medical doctor in a health clinic, asked her staff what would improve their effectiveness and positive team feeling. Among other things, they mentioned having a new time for the weekly team meeting, so they wouldn’t waste time in traffic en route to work on those days. They also asked to have access to patient records before their work shifts so they could read up on who they had to support during their shifts. These were easily modified, making the team feel heard, appreciated and more effective.
Skeptics may wonder what “double” effectiveness means and it really doesn’t matter. As long as people are doubling their effectiveness in their minds, it promotes progress. For some research that proves that belief in progress promotes progress, check out Carol Dweck’s TED talk.
[Image by Freepik]