Ask Good Questions Now to Prevent Inaction Later

Common themes often emerge in my coaching and training sessions. For example, I can tell you every company  – regardless of size or industry – will list communication, handling conflict, and accountability among its top challenges.

When it comes to individual challenges, a lack of urgency – or an absence of action – ranks near the top. So often, employees from entry level to executives quickly take on a project, and just as quickly they hit a standstill because they didn’t get clarity on what the boss really wants.

So, then what? Wait until the next meeting so you can ask follow-up questions? Wait until the leader asks for an update? Wait until…what? What are you waiting for?

Stop assuming you have a clear picture without taking the time and effort to get clarity. How do you do that? I believe every person should have at least two – three follow-up questions to every assignment they get. Here are some questions that may help get you going:

  • What do you not like about the current process (or plan, or system, etc.)?
  • What do you like about the current…?
  • What are we hoping to overcome/correct/accomplish?
  • Who else is involve/who do I need work with?
  • When would you like this completed by?

If you’re an analyzer who needs time to process the information, ask if you can send an email or pop in within the next day or so to follow-up with any additional questions.

Avoid appearing as if you have a lack of follow through or a poor sense of urgency by taking the time to get a clear picture of what is expected before you leave that first meeting. In most cases, your leader will appreciate your thorough questions, and you’ll have the information you need to start – and finish – strong.

Teachers will remind us that, “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.” And that’s true. However, in business there are questions that seek to dig deeper and make our leader think, and then there are questions that take up our leader’s valuable time or make our leader think for us.

Good Questions:

  • Help us understand our leader’s thought process behind their decisions so that we can learn to approach opportunities and challenges as they would
  • Make our leader think about options or obstacles they haven’t considered
  • Allow us to gain a better understanding of our organization or our industry (more…)