I specifically titled this blog The Power of Questions, and I want to be clear that questions differ greatly from questioning. I define these terms like this: questions are asked to gain understanding; whereas questioning is a behavior used to pick something apart to criticize or even ridicule.
It’s important in business to be able to freely ask questions. It’s even more important when you are managing others. You must be able to gain an understanding of your employee’s role, process or even perspective, to make sure you are on the same page. It can be a slower process but it is important for the long term.
Keeping this in mind is helpful when you feel like taking the quick path and directing an employee on what to do versus asking him a few questions so he discovers on his own what path to take. When you have an employee inefficiently performing a task, begin by asking him a few questions to gauge his perspective. He may have a misunderstanding of the desired outcome or maybe he just doesn’t have enough information or training to perform the function effectively.
This approach may take longer than “fixing” the problem for him; however, in the long run he will have a strong foundation for his actions, and you will have a better understanding of his decision making process. Make sure you practice the art of asking questions, so your employee does not feel questioned, or interrogated. Your intent must be to find out more and gain a better understanding.
Investing a little time now in developing your employees will go a long way. Plus, by asking questions you may actually learn something new as well. Looking at daily functions through fresh eyes may prompt solutions to problems you never even knew existed.
Challenge yourself to ask questions the next time you see an activity or behavior you do not understand. Questions, not questioning, bring us closer to common ground.