Leading with Questions – In Work

We’ve been talking about leading with questions. You can read the first two posts here and here. Today we’re going to talk about what this looks like in a work setting. I work in an organization that has a great culture towards professional coaching. This isn’t just something that we say, it’s implemented on a ground level. The best example I have to give you a picture of this isthat I meet with everyone who directly reports to me, for roughly an hour every other week. You need to meet consistently with those you’re investing in, at least for some amount of time, for your time to be truly effective.[Tweet That] During this time, we talk about whatever they want to talk about. It really is incredible, the things that come out of those conversations.

What does this have to do with questions in work? A lot, actually. I’ve had to learn how to manage and navigate these meetings in a way that’s productive. At this point I follow an outline that I’ve created to help with these. It’s a series of questions I ask to get the ball rolling. (Wait a minute. Didn’t you just say that you talk about whatever the other person wants to talk about?) Yes, I did. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

The thing about agendas and expectations.

They’re important. No really, the rule that I try to follow at the moment is don’t go to a meeting that has no agenda.[Tweet That] The same is true for One on One’s. If the other person doesn’t have an agenda, I’ll have one. What I’ve found is that when I go into a meeting with a report and they already know what I’m going to ask, they’ve had time to come up with what they want to talk about in those conversations. It helps develop a good expectation for the time so that they feel like they’re getting the most out of their time with me and it increases the overall satisfaction of the meetings. It also helps me have an idea about direction for my team members both short and long term (where they want to go, where they need to go next, how what they want fits into the overall vision of the organization, and how I can help them).

Now about the meat and the bones.

I found after a while of having no agenda that the guys I met with had trouble knowing what they wanted to talk about. So these questions can help with that. They’re like the skeleton for the discussions, and then whatever the other person wants to talk about from those questions are the meat on the bones. With that said, here are the bones.

  1. Performance
    • How are you doing with the things that are within your primary area of responsibility? The things listed in your job description? How can I help?
  2. Praise
    • How do you receive recognition best? What is the best way to give you recognition in a way that’s meaningful to you?
  3. Professionalism
    • How do I present myself to the client in such a way that I’m breaking down barriers to communication? How can you get better at this? What’s your next step? How can I help?
    • What are your career goals? What are your next steps in achieving them? How can I help?
  4. Priorities
    • How are your Rocks doing? On-Track\Off-Track? How can I help?
  5. Anything else that you want to talk about?

What do you think? Are there questions that you ask to those who report to you, or questions that you are asked by whoever you report to? Are there questions on this list that you would add or take away?

  • Grant Imbrock

    This is great. It makes me think about how I can be intentional with people in my life. What are some questions you use to begin this conversation when it hasnt already been set up as a meeting or discussiin time: How to steer chitchat into meaningful conversation.

    • Hey Grant,
      That’s a great question. [pun] It just depends on the situation. Question Behind the Question has helped. http://qbq.com Beyond that, I usually find that how and when I questions helps. Most people think “how are you?” is a greeting…but “how are you…really?” with a pause after causes them to think about it. Of course, the when becomes important there. They have to have the space to answer. Also, listening and being a person of “Double Listening” as John Stott would say. http://amzn.to/1MWk7sU
      If you want to talk more about it, I’d love to catch up anyway, just give me a call.