Questions. Good and bad. And how that fuels your team's curiosity.
Roger Schwarz writes a great article over at the Harvard Business Review on how to increase your team’s curiosity. Roger writes: Not all questions are created equal. To develop an effective team, it’s not enough to ask questions. You have to be genuinely curious. When you are genuinely curious, you ask questions to learn what others are thinking. When you aren’t genuinely curious, you ask questions to make a point: rhetorical questions. See if you can tell which of the following questions are genuine and which are rhetorical:
- “You don’t really think your solution will work, do you?”
- “If we implemented my proposal, what problems, if any, would it create in your divisions?”
- “Why do you think I asked you to follow up yesterday?”
- Do I already know the answer to my question?
- Am I asking the question to see if people will give the right (preferred) answer?
- Am I asking the question to make a point?
Privately say to yourself the question you plan to ask. For example, during your team meeting your direct reports have just told you that they will miss the final deadline and incur additional costs on a key project, the very outcomes you were trying hard to avoid. Feeling frustrated, you’re tempted to respond, “Why do you think I asked you to finish the work before the end of this fiscal year?”At the end of your private question, add the words “you idiot.” Now you’re saying to yourself, “Why do you think I asked you to finish the work before the end of this fiscal year, you idiots?” If the question still sounds natural with “you idiots” at its end, don’t ask it. It’s really a statement — a pointed rhetorical question. Change the question to a transparent statement that shares your view, including your reasoning and your feelings. Then add a genuine question that helps you learn more about the situation. In this case you might say, “That really bothers me because it already puts next year’s budget at risk. Help me understand; what happened to make project expenses spill over into next fiscal year?”Shifting from rhetorical to genuine questions may be more difficult than it seems. That’s because the questions you ask and the statements you make are driven by your mindset: the set of core values and assumptions that unconsciously guide your behavior. There is much more. Read more from Roger here… Are YOU asking the RIGHT type of questions? Todd