Don’t be afraid of the answer

How many times do you hear (even from me) that as leaders we have to be able to ask the right (and tough) questions?

We have to ask our applicants the right questions to see if they would be a good fit for the company.

We have to ask our employees the right questions to see if they are satisfied with their work experience.

We have to ask our customers the right questions to be sure they like our products.

We have to ask the right questions about our organization to make sure we are as efficient and productive as possible.

So we are asking lots of questions, but do we really want to hear the answer?
If not, what are we afraid of?

Recently I got the chance to hear a good friend do a presentation.  He had great content and developed an immediate rapport with his audience.  He also asked some really insightful and thought-provoking questions during the session.  And then HE answered them.

We spoke after the session, and I asked about the questions he asked and the fact that the audience didn’t have a chance to respond.  Here’s what he said, “I’m not really a fan of asking questions during a session like that.  You never know what people are going to say.”  He said he didn’t want someone grandstanding or taking the conversation off course.  He was afraid of the impact that would have on his presentation.

On the other hand, what if allowing the audience to answer gives you more information, provides additional insight to the other audience members and further engages them because they got to participate?  That would be good, right?

So what are we afraid of? Usually it’s the unknown, and whether or not we’ll be able to handle it.

If we ask our employees about their experience, are we afraid they’ll actually tell us – and that we could be the problem?  If that’s the case, we probably already know that there is something else we could be doing to make their experience better so they could further help us achieve the company mission.  We just may not know what it is.

But what if this happened… what if your employees pointed out a potential short-coming in your abilities or the employment experience you created?  Isn’t there a possibility that that information could lead to you improving your performance, which could lead to higher morale, less turnover and higher profits?

If you agree that yes, that is a possibility, then go ahead and ask the question AND be ready to listen to the answer.

Thanks for reading!


About the author: Matt asks questions all the time about what organizations need to be successful. The answer he hears? “We need our front-line and seasonal supervisors to have the skills needed to actually LEAD.  Matt listened. Click here to learn how to prepare and motivate your leaders for the upcoming season.

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