Episode 60: Managing others: Ask better questions. Get better results.

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Often when you are newly promoted you need to watch that you don’t drain your energy and fall into the resource gap. 

You know your former responsibilities better than anyone and this often keeps you on point to continue to be a resource. 

While it’s nice to feel instrumental to the organization there are short-term and long-term consequences to staying on point. In this episode, I will show you how to ask better questions to free up your resources, preserve your brain, and get better results. 

While providing a colleague with the answer may seem like it’s an efficient way to get things done, it’s really providing a short-term solution to what could become a long-term issue–one that negatively impacts both you and the organization.

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Read the Transcript
Hey friends, welcome to the Career Refresh podcast. I am your host, Jill Griffin

Last week, in epi 59, I talked about how to successfully answer a question you don’t want to answer.

This week I am talking about how to ask better questions to get better answers which will free up your own resources. 

One of the behaviors that I see often with newly elevated leaders is that they have to retrain their own behavior and their brain, as they take on their new role. 

Often when someone who either reports to you…or perhaps has less experience or is junior to you comes to you with a question and you see an easy solution, you jump in and solve it for them  – and you take away their agency. 

They don’t grow and you don’t train them to think creatively. 

While providing a colleague with the answer may seem like it’s an efficient way to get things done, it’s really providing a short-term solution to what could become a long-term issue–one that negatively impacts both you and the organization.  

When direct report comes to you with a problem, the more effective way to response is by asking them questions and resisting the urge to solve the problem, and help them find the best solution for themselves. 

We aren’t talking about asking just any questions but, rather, employing questions that inspire people to think in new ways, expand their range of vision, and enable them to contribute more to the organization.

Solving their challenge usually doesn’t solve the underlining that we want to train people to step up into their role. 

We can’t always stretch all the way to meet them, and we want to find the middle ground. 

Your role as a leader is to create capacity for others to do their job. 

You can provide huge value and a training opportunity for your direct reports. 

I am suggesting that you ask questions that inspire their thinking, stretch their vision, and enable them to contribute more to the organization.

Asking open-ended questions helps to start a strategic conversation because they are not looking for specific answers. 
 
Beginning with “Why,” “How,” or “What do you think about…,” they are questions that set the stage for subordinates to discover their own solutions, increasing competence, confidence, and accountability. 
 
These types of questions encourage a person’s development as a thinker and help them be solution orientated.

They then have the opportunity to deliver a solution in the immediate future because there is a solution. 

And a longer-term solution as your report learns how to handle future challenges more effectively. 

Here’s a framework for thinking about questions to empower your direct reports.

The most effective and empowering questions create value in one or more of the following ways:

1. A clarity question: “Can you explain more about this situation?”

2. Build relationships Instead of “Did you make your sales goal?” ask, “How have sales been going?”

3. They help people think analytically and critically: “What are the consequences of going this route?”

4. They inspire people to reflect and see things in fresh, unpredictable ways: “Why did this work?”

5. They encourage breakthrough thinking: “Can that be done in any other way?”

6. They challenge assumptions: “What do you think you will lose if you start sharing responsibility for the implementation process?”

7. They create ownership of solutions: “Based on your experience, what do you suggest we do here?”

When you ask ppl better questions, you help them develop their ability to solve problems, increase their creativity, and resourcefulness. 

Which, in my opinion, resourcefulness is the most underrated skill. 

Ok, folks, that I what I have for this week. 

Before I go, who’s helping you build a successful career? Do you have a  strategy? 

I’d be honored to help you. Check out the details in the show notes where you can schedule an appointment to see if my private or group coaching is right for you. 

Alright, my friends. I appreciate you. Thanks for joining me this week. Until next time

Visit JillGriffinCoaching.com for free content and strategies to refresh your career.