Humanergy spends a lot of time helping people ask powerful questions. We know that, in contrast with telling people what to do, questions can help people learn and grow.

It’s not just asking more questions each day. Your motive for asking is extremely important, because it drives what and how you ask.

Scenario 1:Direct report (DR) returns from a training session, and you ask, “So, what did you learn?”

If your motive is to test if the DR was paying attention or just loafing, the impact of the question is pretty negative. The DR will likely give a short answer and retreat. However, if you are invested in the DR’s development, you will ask the question with a different intonation and positive energy. The DR will be excited to share what she learned and how she plans to apply it on the job.

One short question with two very different outcomes. Another example:

People make mistakes, and asking insightful questions can clarify what went wrong and how to prevent problems in the future. In the tense hours/days after a mistake, a not-so-enlightened supervisor could use questions as a way of keeping others in line and themselves in control.

Scenario 2: Your DR tried a new method to solve a problem and it didn’t work. You ask, “Now do you see why I wanted you to do it the other way?”

That question is not really a question. It’s a slap on the wrist, at best. If your motivation is to help your DR expand thinking, ask some of these questions, “You thought your plan would work. What happened, and what did you learn? Are there other strategies you want to try?”

As Danielle Lombard-Sims posted at Toolbox.com, asking questions is a great way to help your employees learn to solve problems on their own. It’s also an investment in your organization’s future. So check your motivation, and ask away!


We are motivated to help, so contact Humanergy!

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