We came across some feedback in a group recently about managers and questions. The proposition was put that your boss asks you questions because they don’t know the answer. This question stayed with us because it was concerning that that was the perception. In our day-to-day practice, we ask questions to guide and to coach. We take the view that by asking questions, our team learns. And when our team learns, they grow and they can better serve their clients and they have a sense of achievement.
Asking questions doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t know the answer.
When you are early in your career, you should be encouraged to ask questions in reverse. If you aren’t sure about where you were supposed to take a matter, you should ask. If you’re not clear on the instructions you have been given, you should ask.
Warren Berger, in his book, The Book of Beautiful Questions, poses, when we are confronted with almost any demanding situation, in work or in life, simply taking the time and effort to ask questions can help us. It can help guide us to better decisions and a more productive course of action. But the questions must be the right ones- the ones that cut to the heart of a complex challenge. All that enable us to see the old problem in a new light.
Sometimes simply asking why is enough to query the process or the proposed outcome. Seth Godin notes, without “why” there can be no “here’s how to make it better”.
Next time there is a discussion about options for a particular problem, think about how these questions might open up the possibilities that are available.
What is the good, the bad, the ugly?
If none of the current options were available, what would we do? If someone was looking in on this scenario, what would they do?
How would our clients feel about this decision? If we asked our client a question instead of our team, would the outcome be different?
Taking the time to refocus the questions and think outside of the normal box will open up new opportunities and possibilities, and potentially outcomes that you hadn’t considered.
There is always much to be gained from asking better questions.