Join Lisa Gates for an in-depth discussion in this video Asking powerful questions, part of Coaching and Developing Employees.
Powerful questions are open-ended and begin with who, what, when, where, why, or how. Asking these kinds of questions triggers your employees to source their own ideas and solutions. Questions like, do you like your new office? Or, are you enjoying your work with Mary? Are close-ended and can be answered with a simple yes or no. Close ended questions do little to encourage conversation or self-awareness. Likewise, when you feel you are about to give advice or offer criticism, you can turn those statements into open-ended questions instead. So, let's reframe the questions we ask as open-ended.
For example, what do you think about your new office? Or, how are things working with Mary? These questions encourage thoughtfulness and draw out more information. Let's take this a little further. Here's a brief coaching snippet with Erica and Michelle that demonstrates powerful questions in action. Keep an eye out for the bump in the road and how to redirect. Michelle: So how's it going with your email and phone call triage? Eric: Not so great. I've been tracking my emails every day, and the average is 150.
I don't know how anybody keeps up with that amount of volume. Michelle: That is a lot of email. Now last week you talked about carving out time at the beginning and the end of each workday for email. How's that going? Eric: Not so great. I mean, there's just not enough time. I get bogged down trying to figure out which emails are most important. Michelle: Well, they're not all of equal importance. I think you should choose the top three project priorities and then make your decision from there. Okay. I'll give it a try. Michelle: Oh, I'm sorry.
Let's, let's go back. Sounds like your seeing the vast ocean of emails and even with the hour of focused attention, you don't know where to start. Is that more accurate? Eric: Yes, I get very anxious. I'm nervous that I'm going to miss something or that people are going to think I'm slow or that I'm slacking. Michelle: That's an interesting perspective. Is it true? Eric: Well, (SOUND) maybe. But actually, I'm the opposite of a slacker. Michelle: So, what is your expectation about what you should be able to do? Eric: I should be able to create a system.
get it started. Michelle: Mm-hm. Eric: And then call it done. Michelle: That's a great idea. What would it look like? >> Okay. A few things to notice about that interaction. Michelle took Eric's lead. She acknowledged his perspectives and feelings, and worked with them, not against them. Michelle may have opinions and criticisms she could offer. But Eric's self-assessment is far more empowering. Notice also that Michelle went off track and tried to fix Eric's challenge and then quickly redirected herself. Transparency is the best avenue for self correcting.
Be sure to take a look at the exercise guide for powerful questions to help you master this skill. And here's one thing you can do immediately to move things from intellectual to practical. Use these questions every day, all day long with everyone, starting now. Experiment with your family and friends. This is good because not only will you get practice, but it might also improve the quality of your relationships.
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- Finding time to coach
- Establishing a relationship with your employees
- Asking powerful questions
- Becoming an active listener
- Maintaining accountability
- Using questionnaires and self-assessments
- Aligning professional goals with company objectives<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.