Episode 30: Questions - To Ask or Not To AskJul 19, 2022
Questions are a great way to draw out the great potential with your people: to solve problems, to grow, to perform better. We can use questions as leaders to explore, to listen, to understand.
You’ve got to ask yourself, though, is there a time where questions are not useful?
My answer is definitely yes!
When You Already Know the Answer
These are the kinds of questions that start with “Have you thought about …” and then you offer the answer. Asking a question like this can feel condescending without meaning to. It may insinuate that your team member didn’t know what they needed to know. Your intention to empower and draw out the best in our team is not the impact you actually had with the question you asked.
If you already know the answer, it’s best to just share it rather than ask a question. Sometimes as a leader your job is to offer a directive rather than use a question.
When You Need to Give Advice
Advice as questions sounds something like, “Why don’t you just do THIS?” Advice disguised as questions can shut down the conversation rather than adding to it. For advice to be effective, it needs to be accepted or rejected by the receiver of the advice.
When the conversation shifts from questions to advice, it’s best to signal your shift in the conversation. Ask if you can offer advice or simply say that you would like to share some insights from your own experience.
If it’s advice and not a directive, then they have the option to take it or leave it. If it needs to be a directive, simply tell them what they need to do.
Rather than being direct and clarifying expectations, leaders can sometimes think it will soften the blow if they phrase their performance expectation as a question. It sounds something like, “Why did you finish the report like that?”
It can accidentally put your people on the defensive feeling like they have to justify their behavior by answering the “why” of your question.
You’re better off just clarifying what you need by saying something like, “Thanks for doing the report. I was looking for additional information about X. Can you add that in by Friday?”
We will keep playing with questions in this podcast. They are a great tool to help you build that team you’ve always wanted and help them become the leaders they want to be.
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