Dear employees from my beginning days as a manager,
I’m sorry for yelling and telling. I didn’t know any better at the time.
As a new manager, I dreaded giving feedback. It felt like confrontation, so I'd avoid it until my frustration boiled over. Then I’d “yell and tell” my employees I wasn’t happy with their work. Sadly, business has bred managers who “yell and tell,” unable to connect to people as individuals. This results in managers who under-deliver to their employees, teams, businesses, and their own careers.
Thankfully, I have learned the error of my ways and I’m going to let you in on my secret.
All of these areas are critical for great managers, but let’s first focus on the concept of Asking Powerful Questions.
Powerful Questions generate conversation. They are:
Powerful Questions unleash potential that empowers individuals and teams. They do this by giving you:
Here are some of my favorite Powerful Questions arranged ing a framework I call ASK – Align Seek Kick-start:
ALIGN on the topic for the coaching conversation.
SEEK to understand current realities.
KICK-START shifts that drive action.
And the “bonus question”:
When you’re coaching, the most important voice belongs to your employee. This question gives them the chance to provide additional thoughts. Just remember to pause after you ask it. An awkward silence may prompt the real issue waiting to be unlocked.
1. Establish the right time to talk.
Always ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” Employees may have time, but other matters may keep them from fully participating. The right conversation at the wrong time always becomes the wrong conversation.
2. Ask Powerful Questions.
You know how I feel about this. Asking rather than telling lets people discover their own solutions, which helps employees effectively challenge themselves and generate productive ideas and performance.
3. Look, listen, and follow your intuition.
Words are only part of the story. Gestures, tone of voice, emotions, and even what they are not saying can be equally important. Pay attention to your intuition.
4. Check for understanding and clarity.
Never presume you understand everything you hear, and don’t rely solely on #3. Summarize and share your hunches. Ask if your conclusions are correct and clarify if needed.
5. Offer your observations and create shifts.
The ability to help employees shift their thinking is the difference between “a conversation” and “a coaching conversation.” Ask, “May I offer you my observations?” Share what you observed about their judgments, attitude, speech, and body language. Your insights may lead to shifts.
6. Brainstorm solutions and actions.
Brainstorming includes offering observations, suggestions, and support. Remember that any suggestion is simply an idea, not a mandate. Keep an open mind and stay flexible about what develops.
Remember, if you’re new to coaching, you’ll first need to shift from “telling” to having conversations and asking Powerful Questions. Your employees will need to make some shifts, too. Some may still ask for advice and answers, but don’t just give it away. Ask the questions that help your employees reach their own conclusions. This new way of doing things may be a challenge, so let your team know how you’d like to involve them and what you expect of them. Explain your role as a partner and coach – and show them how this will benefit the team and the business.
Gary Magenta is committed to the development of leaders and managers. He does this based on a strong perspective that if leaders and managers want to change their businesses, they must start by changing how they engage their people. He is a Senior Vice President of Root Inc., a consulting company that helps organizations execute their strategy through people. During his 13 years at Root, Gary has partnered with CEOs and executive teams at Fortune 500 and Global 2000 organizations throughout North America and Europe with a holistic view of their businesses, their people, and the customers they serve.
Whatever the challenge, Gary brings over 25 years of business experience to every project, supported by a realistic outlook, a durable “street sense” for creating results, and a sense of humor that puts things into perspective. To order a copy of Gary’s book, The Un-Bossy Boss: 12 Powerful Questions to Make YOU a Great Manager, click here.