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12 Good Questions: For Growing at Work


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In advising clients how to work through gnarly issues, manage conflict, and create change, I have found that good questions result in good outcomes. Here are 12 of my favorites.

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12 Good Questions: For Growing at Work

  1. 1. For  growing  at  work   Lois  Kelly  |  |  |  @LoisKelly    
  2. 2. In  advising  clients  how  to  work   through  gnarly  issues  and  create   change  at  work,  I  have  found  that   good  ques@ons  result  in  good   outcomes.     Here  are  12  of  my  favorites.     Lois  Kelly   @LoisKelly;    
  3. 3. Framing  the   discussion    
  4. 4. This  is  one  of  the  most  useful  exercises  in  opening  up  a  strategy   session,  par@cularly  among  skep@cal  people.  Asking  people  to   choose  two  photos  and  explain  where  they  are  and  where  they   want  to  be  in  visual  metaphors  unlocks  them,  and  creates  a  safer   climate  to  dig  into  important  issues.    
  5. 5. To  prevent  discussions  from  devolving  into  drama  and  problems,   agree  on  purpose.  Are  we  talking  about  vision/strategy,  planning   or  project  details?  (A  mee@ng  should  only  be  on  one  of  those   things.)  Also  agree  to  stop  the  mee@ng  if  you  stray  into  talking   about  problems  or  drama.)  HT  to  David  Rock’s  Quiet  Leadership.  
  6. 6. Looking  at  strategy  
  7. 7. This  is  Theodore  LeviR’s  classic  marke@ng  ques@on.  It  can  also   be  applied  to  how  you  see  your  job  or  task  at  hand.     What  the  ques@on  asks.  
  8. 8. By  understanding  how  we  want  to  transform  our  customers  (clients,   bosses,  pa@ents,  donors,  our  own  self,  etc.)  we  can  more  clearly  see   what  we  should  offer  them.  This  changes  strategy  discussions  in   extremely  useful  ways.    From  Michael  Schrage,  author  of  What  Do  You  Want  Your  Customers  To  Become.    
  9. 9. Engaging  in  healthy  debate  
  10. 10. Ah,  we  humans  try  to  avoid  conflict  and  controversy.  But  change   is  not  possible  without  uncomfortable  conversa@ons.  This   ques@on  allows  people  to  name  the  elephant  in  the  room  so   that  you  can  discuss  what  really  maRers.    (Even  beRer,  go   around  room  and  ask  each  person  to  respond  to  this  ques@on.)  
  11. 11. When  people  make  bold  asser@ons  that  seem  too  general  or  too   strident  or  too  anything,  simply  ask  this  ques@on  to  dig  deeper   into  the  topic  and  gain  a  beRer  understanding  of  it.    O[en@mes,   the  assump@ons  beneath  the  asser@on  are  faulty.  But  you  may   only  find  out  by  asking  this  ques@on.  
  12. 12. A  cousin  to  #6,  this  helps  you  see  if  a  person  has  any  data  or   proof  to    back  up  his  asser@ons  or  assump@ons.    Discussions   around  opinions  are  helpful.  Debates  around  strategy  and   important  decisions,  however,  need  to  be  based  on  more  than   opinions.  
  13. 13. Moving  forward    
  14. 14. When  you  ask  someone  to  rate  importance,  you  quickly  get  a   sense  of  how  much  energy  to  put  into  the  topic.  If  people  think  a   topic  is  only  a  4  or  5  in  importance,  move  on.  Focus  on  the  issues   in  the  8-­‐10  range.  If  you  think  the  topic  deserves  greater   importance,  do  some  research  a[er  the  strategy  mee@ng.   Remember  #2:  avoid  drama.  
  15. 15. This  is  an  invaluable  ques@on  at  the  end  of  strategy  session.   Don’t  leave  with  a  laundry  list  of  “to  do’s.”    Get  agreement  on   the  one  thing  to  tackle  that  would  provide  the  most  value.  
  16. 16. Reflec=ng  on  what’s   happening  
  17. 17. When  we  empathize  with  another  person,  we  gain  insights  into   her  perspec@ve.  More  importantly  this  understanding  builds   trust  and  creates  a  beRer  rela@onship,  both  essen@al  to   collabora@on  at  work.  (Note:  this  is  especially  useful  to  ask  if  you   are  very  frustrated  with  someone  at  work.  Hit  the  pause  buRon:   What’s  really  going  on  with  him?)  
  18. 18. Our  true  selves  are  formed  by  age  8,  and  we  haven’t  yet  been   tainted  by  social  pressures.    For  several  years  I  was  reluctant  to   ask  business  people  to  have  their  young  selves  write  advice  to   their  older  selves.  Might  it  be  too  corny?    No  way.    What   emerges  is  always  insighjul  and  helpful.  
  19. 19. The  posi@ve  psychology  and  resiliency  researchers  say  we  can   rewire  our  brains  to  be  happier  when  we  reflect  each  day  on  the   one  great  moment  of  the  day.  It  needn’t  be  big.  Maybe  you  got  a   parking  space  close  to  the  building,  a  boring  project  mee@ng  was   postponed,  you  and  your  child  had  the  giggles  at  dinner.  Simply   take  note.  Every  day.  
  20. 20. And  what  are  your  good  ques@ons?   #GdQues@ons