Learn how to help your employees maintain momentum and build self-sufficiency through brainstorming.
- The first three coaching practices, asking questions, listening, and challenging will almost always point you in the direction of next steps. But if your employee's a little foggy about a solution and not sure what action to take, brainstorming can help them uncover multiple solutions and possibilities for action. Now what I've noticed with my clients over the years is that before they can unlock their creativity and brainstorm effectively, they have to be able to outgas about what's frustrating them or what their fears are about a project or a task. So I often do a little pre-brainstorming by asking three questions. One, what are you frustrated about? Two, what do you want? And three, what are your aspirations? I was working with a customer success VP who is in charge of revamping her company's client onboarding process. Now among her long list of frustrations was this one. I can't get engineering and marketing to collaborate. So what she wanted was a collaboration that took into account everyone's needs. Her big picture vision or aspiration was to integrate engineering and marketing to satisfy the needs of the clients and increase retention and profits. So if your employee is stuck, ask them to make a list of frustrations, wants, and aspirations to get things moving. Now while there are many different brainstorming models, like making a decision matrix or mind mapping, I want to simplify things and focus on two kinds of powerful questions you can use to help people get unstuck. I suggest using the note taking tool so you can capture these questions. The first set of questions I call generators. These are questions that are intended to unleash as many ideas as possible, and they sound like this. What have you tried already? What part of the problem have you not explored? What needs to be happening that isn't happening now? What would it look like if everything was exactly as you envision? And here are two more generators. What's another option and what else? The next set of questions are called deciders. And these are questions to help people find right actions. And they sound like so. What's the smallest or easiest step you could take right now? What action could you take that would light a fire under this project? And what action would give you the biggest leap in learning? And finally, what one action would trigger all the rest? So lots of options to help you kickstart your brainstorming with people. I want to give you another power tip here. You need to hold up your end of the bargain and walk the talk to keep trust and commitment high. So what your employees choose as a next right action might involve gaining access to people or resources or even training, things you'll likely have a hand in orchestrating or at least approving. So brainstorm with your people to discover possible solutions and actions and remember to let them take the lead.
- Recall methods for probing deeper in conversations with employees.
- Determine which aspect of a challenge to avoid when determining the challenge an employee can undertake.
- Recognize questions that generate the greatest number of ideas during a brainstorming session.
- Explain the advantage of using focused feedback with an employee.
- Identify the potential benefits of listening and using open-ended questions with an employee who is unhappy with her or her job.