One effective way to boost productivity -- in other words, make your organization healthier -- is to ask questions and to encourage employees to ask questions.
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By creating a culture that welcomes questions, you can clear up conflict. In addition, employees can get a better picture of what's expected of them if they ask good questions and use the answers constructively.
Worded correctly, questions get more than answers. They get results.
Questions can clear up confusion and spur people to action.
Keep the concept of asking positive questions in mind as you and your employees tackle your tasks each day.
A few useful question types include:
- Open and Direct Questions - This question type uncovers the who, what, when, where, why or how. These questions will encourage others to share their opinions and take ownership of a problem. For example, you might ask, "How can we best work together to complete this assignment on time?"
- Assumed-Answer questions - This question type subtly implies the specific direction you want the person's answer to take. Use them to gain buy-in and encourage teamwork. For example, "Don't you think this outline needs just a little more work? Perhaps we could add something here. . .?"
- Off-the-Hook Questions – This question type allow others to refuse a request without losing face or feeling they're letting you down. Use them as a signal to others that they do have a choice. Example: "I know you've put in a lot of overtime this week and things have been quite hectic, but would it be possible for you to stay late tonight and help with this project?"
The ability to ask questions well is an important part of leadership. It's also a productivity enabler for the entire organization.
A popular misconception about leadership is that it's all about telling people what to do.
In fact, good leaders are adept at posing questions and letting their people answer them in a way that gets things done.
Once that form of leadership spreads throughout the organization, amazing things can happen.