27 September 2023

Whizz quiz: How good questions usually get quality answers

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Julie Mackay says the key to achieving the outcomes wanted from a team is to ask its members the right questions.

Have you ever had multiple discussions at work with somebody about achieving a particular outcome but nothing seems to change?

No matter how many conversations you have you simply can’t get the results you need.

This is a frustrating situation many of us face with colleagues far too often.

It generally results in you asking yourself: “Why is it that this person and I cannot achieve the outcomes we need to achieve?”

While it’s easy to lay blame on the person you’re working with, before assuming they are underperforming, reflect on what you could be doing differently in this situation.

Chances are in the conversations you’re having, you’re actually not asking the right questions.

The quality of the questions you ask will ultimately impact the quality of the outcome you get.

So it all comes down to focusing on asking the right questions… questions that create an air of clarity and ownership.

To help you navigate these situations we’ve put together the kinds of questions you should be asking team members to drive forward business outcomes.

When you’re asking questions it’s easy to start at the top — we focus on the outcome itself as opposed to the mindset and behaviour that’s needed to achieve it.

The issue with this is that if we focus solely on the final outcome, there’s a big chance we’ll never achieve it.

Let’s assume you wanted to give up smoking.

You know the final outcome you’re setting out to achieve.

However, if your mindset and thinking around giving up smoking hasn’t fundamentally shifted there’s a high chance of failure, even if you set out to do so with the best intentions.

In order to reach that outcome, you need to actually believe that you can give up smoking and genuinely want to do it.

This way of thinking applies to achieving outcomes at work as well.

You need to ask your team questions that challenge any limiting beliefs they might be facing.

Open the conversation by asking them: How do you feel about the task? Is anything holding you back?

Are you experiencing any roadblocks or challenges?

What assumptions might you be making that is stopping you from achieving the outcome? What do you need to shift?

Shifting someone’s mindset is only part of the equation.

While it’s important that your colleague believes they have the ability to achieve the outcome, belief alone is not enough.

They also need to change and exhibit the behaviour required to achieve it.

Questions you could ask here would be: What should you be doing differently? Or what behaviours are critical for you to achieve your outcome?

What do you need to change day-to-day or week-to-week?

The third kind of questions you should be asking your team are things that make them feel enthusiastic about achieving the outcome.

What would success look like? What impact will finishing this project have on the business?

If you help your people see and feel the potential impact of their work they will have a greater level of energy around executing it.

They know what success could look like, and they’re motivated to get there.

Next time you or a colleague are not achieving the outcomes you desire, what we would encourage you to do is to work backwards.

Help your colleagues realise: Do they the right mindset? What might need to shift? Do they need to change any behaviour?

*Julie Mackay is a consultant whose key focus is leadership development. She can be contacted [email protected]

This article first appeared on the Corporate Edge Blog.

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