Merge's Blog

Boost employee development by asking further questions in response to an employee’s query

In last week’s video instalment in our ongoing series on specific ideas for employee development and growth, I told you that getting your staff to train others is a very powerful way to improve their skill level.  Here is another.  Answer questions with another question.

Answer questions with another question

As leaders, employees often come to us with questions, and our natural instinct is to answer.  After all, we’re the leaders, right?  But in fact, we can significantly boost employee development simply by choosing to instead ASK questions of our employees instead of just answering them.  Let me explain.

When an employee comes to you with an issue or challenge, just giving them an answer may seem like the most expedient approach, particularly if you happen to know the answer.  But you will be losing out on a perfect opportunity for employee development.  Instead, if you make it a point to ask open-ended questions, you will actually help the employee think through the situation and arrive at an acceptable solution, all the while, helping them grow in skill and confidence.

So what are open-ended questions?  Questions such as “Why did that happen?”; “What would you do?”; “How can we solve this problem?” all encourage further dialogue and push your employee to think about the issue, develop alternatives, and offer resolution.  And if you as a leader, can combine this with keeping quiet while you wait for responses, you could end up with really good outcomes, ones that you may not have even considered.  The reality is that when done well, asking questions can motivate and inspire people, generate novel ideas, and sometimes even change the perception of a problem or situation.  So advance employee development by asking more and answering less.

Well, what do you think?  Good idea, or an inefficient approach?  I would love to hear your perspective. 

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