How Asking Questions that Drive Success Can Help You Run Your Business More Effectively
When running your business, leading your team, or consulting with clients, you’ll find that the questions you ask will affect the success of all of your undertakings.
In fact, the questions you ask impact every single growth aspect of your business. They influence continuous learning, engagement, accountability, growth, employee retention rates, and every other measurable performance indicator.
Posing the right questions benefits everyone involved. It encourages learning and facilitates growth. Moreover, it requires may determine the success and sustainability of your business. In today’s fast-paced world, knowing how to ask the right questions, and learning from them continually, makes one of the best investments of energy you can make.
Knowing how to ask a good question means doing so in a way that supports the effect you want to achieve. This means that it starts by asking something about yourself.
I want to show two examples. The first is related to the phases of your project, the other to the competence levels of your employees.
How to Use Questions to Ensure the Success of Your Project
If your project is still in its starting phase, you’ll need to reach for open-ended questions. These will help you come up with as many ideas as possible and will encourage your team’s creativity.
In the planning and implementation phases, the questions you’ll want to ask yourself (and your team) will be closed-ended. Especially when starting implementation. This will ensure that everyone’s focus is on the tasks at hand, selecting the people who’ll be in charge, defining deadlines, as well as determining timelines and resources.
Once the project has been launched and everything is going according to plan, you can use open-ended questions to get as much feedback as possible. This will allow you to make better assessments, as well as to modify your plans if it proves necessary.
On the other hand, if you find yourself in a pickle, you will need closed-ended and suggestive questions. Under these circumstances, your team will need direct leadership to leave the crisis as soon as possible. This means that the monitoring phase is the one you will want to be open to possibilities unless you’re dealing with an emergency.
In the ending phase that involves evaluation and debriefing, you will benefit the most from curiosity and openness towards your team, partners, and clients. This will allow you to get a grip on all the possible ways to improve your next undertaking and thus bring value to both you and your clients.
Questions that Drive Success in Employee Growth
When a leader and their employees engage in honest, open conversations based on mutual respect, the effect is always an increase in productivity.
So, if you want to help a team member improve their results, learn, or grow, you will need to base your questions on their level of competence.
The gap between what you’re aiming for and what their current level is is sure to impact your tactics. But, what stays constant is that your goal always needs to be supporting this individual (adapted based on the concept of adaptive coaching).
Is the person in a completely novel situation or learning a new skill?
If that’s the case, they will benefit from a more directive approach. This means that you’ll want to go with closed-ended questions such as:
- “What do you need to know in order to do this job?”
- “What do you think about doing it this way?”
- “Is there anything you should pay attention to?”
- “Who can you work on this with? Who can help you?”
- “How do you understand this task?”
A person needs more than just instructions. Especially when they’re in a brand new situation.
If, on the other hand, they have developed a specific skill but are still a long way from mastering it, you will want to take a slightly different approach. The best one would be to combine different types of questions, such as:
- “What you’re asking is good, but what do you think about this?”
- “How do you feel about trying this?”
- “What obstacles are you coming up against?”
- “How can I help you do this more easily?”
Of course, some people are independent in applying new knowledge. However, there may be a discrepancy between what you expect and what they can bring. In these cases, you need to take a curious approach. Stay away from criticism. Ask open questions, like:
- “What lead you to approach the task in this way?”
- “If you could go back, what would you do differently and why?”
- “What is it that you know now but didn’t before?”
- “What do your results tell you?”
Finally, some employees are independent, and they still require encouragement (rather than directive leading). Open-ended questions will help these employees start to rely on their own resources. In this case, your source of queries is the same ones the person may be asking themselves. Your task here is to simply take those questions and transform them into a prompt. This way, you’ll give your employee a signal saying that you approve of their autonomy and confirm their competence. You’ll send the message that it’s time for them to start asking questions themselves, as well as to start making decisions based on their instincts.
Asking questions that drive success means being a brave leader who’s ready to give up control and risk results for the sake of growth. In the end, it’s completely OK not to have all the answers.
Asking powerful questions is a craft. And like any other skill, it needs practice to be made perfect.
If you’re interested in improving your leadership skills or just want to be better at asking open-ended questions, make sure to contact me via this link.