“What do you think about this?”
There’s so much power in a question like this, especially in business, because it engages another person to think deeply about the scenario in order to respond.
For a long time now, simply giving directions has been the default management style.
This is instilled in us from a young age. When you go to school, your teacher gives you instructions, then provides feedback after the task is complete. When you get a job, your boss gives you instructions, then provides feedback after the task is complete.
So, what do you do when you become a leader? You give instructions, then you provide feedback after the task is complete.
The problem with this approach is that, as a manager, you don’t gain much insight into your team, which can lead to poor decisions, missing deadlines and staff being hesitant to ask for help.
In this article, I want to share with you some tips and tricks that I have used in my own business and with my own clients to help people become more effective business leaders, simply by asking the right questions.
Most managers don’t ask questions
How do you feel about asking your team questions?
Many people believe that asking questions is a sign of weakness or ignorance. If they are in a management position, then asking questions of their staff can make them feel as though they lack power, answers or authority.
I see this all the time. Managers think that their team needs to view them as someone who is knowledgeable and has all the answers.
What’s surprising for them is that most employees actually enjoy their managers asking them questions. It makes them feel as though they are a vital part of the organisation. This unlocks a lot of strengths and opportunities – all by simply asking rather than telling.
3 benefits of asking your team more questions
There is no one trait alone that can make you an effective manager. However, one skill I’ve found that’s common amongst the top managers I’ve worked with is their ability to ask questions of their staff.
Asking a question is the greatest way to gain deeper insights and develop better solutions that will benefit both your team and your business.
Here are the 3 main benefits of asking more questions as a manager:
- Asking questions promotes team engagement.
How well do you know your staff? Getting to know the people you are working with on a personal level can give you a clearer idea of who they are and how they can contribute to your business.
You may ask, “what do you think of this challenge?”
- Asking questions can stir curiosity and creativity.
Great questions can stir inquisitiveness, encouraging your team members to tap into their knowledge. This helps boost their creativity and generates fresh new ideas.
For example: “how would you overcome this?”
- Great solutions are discovered through the right questions.
Asking questions to your staff encourages them to break out of their normal thinking patterns, leading them to come up with unique solutions that they may not have considered before.
Try, for instance, “If this doesn’t work, what would you do next?”
Encouraging your employees to reach out to you with any concerns is one thing, but taking an active interest in their professional development by asking them the right questions can set you apart as an effective manager and business leader.
How to ask the right questions and be a great leader
Many amazing things can come out of asking the right questions. As Dr Karl Kruszelnicki says, “It is not the answer that gets you the Nobel Prize, it is the question.”
A great manager is someone who can elicit the best performance from their team. Asking the right questions can help you make this happen.
Here are two things I’ve found to be particularly useful when asking questions:
- Be present and attentive.
Often, we ask questions just for the sake of it – ignoring the fact that we aren’t even invested in the answer. Make your staff feel valued by actively listening to their answers and remaining present in the conversation.
- Ask follow-up questions.
This is something that many managers forget. In order to gain a deeper insight, it pays to dive below the surface and ask further questions. You never know what might come of asking a follow-up question.
For instance: “Why do you believe this is the case?” or “how did you come to that conclusion?”
Unlock opportunities for better team management through questions
Asking your staff the right questions at the right time can allow you to proactively uncover serious issues before they even arise. It can also help your employees grow and develop at a much quicker rate.
As an example, you may ask, “what is the biggest challenge you foresee next year?”
Questions encourage healthy communication which can promote a productive environment. You’ll be amazed at how the simplest of questions can lead to better outcomes for your business.
Do you need help mastering the art of asking the right questions?
If you struggle with the idea of asking questions as a manager or business owner, I can help.
How? Well, as a Business Coach and Mentor, I work with leaders like you to develop strategies to get the most out of your team and help guide you on the path towards achieving your business goals.
Whether you’re struggling with asking questions, losing focus of your goals, or you’re looking for a fresh perspective to empower your team to reach their full potential, I’m here to help.
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