Asking good questions is key to being an amazing manager. Whether you’re trying to understand someone’s career goals, get honest feedback, or coach someone through a problem, finding the right question at the right time is critical.
It’s not just about picking the right question though. Once you ask it you have to navigate the answers skillfully in order to have the most productive conversation.
In some ways this is more art than science. Think of it like a pickup game of basketball or a jazz jam session. The question provides the “rules” and structure, but once you ask the question there are innumerable ways the conversation can go. You need to be a great listener, and ask even better follow up questions to get the most of it.
There is no way to anticipate all the different paths that a question could take. A question guide does not even attempt to do this. The goal of a question guide is to provide the following:
- The motivation for asking a particular question
- Guidelines for when to ask a particular question
- A few different follow up questions and responses to common answers
- A few follow up actions or conversations
- Tips for asking this particular question
The best way to get really good at asking a specific question is to become a great listener and ask the question a lot of times.
There are no easy shortcuts to proficiency, but a question guide can help you prepare. Like a playbook it provides different plays to handle different situations and gives you ideas to try.
If you have a favorite question and would like me to take a shot at writing a question guide for it contact me!