The Art of Asking the Right Questions

Your team is only as strong as the questions you ask 

If you’ve ever been in charge of training people, you may have had moments where you get frustrated with the pace people are learning at, or that you often have to repeat yourself. 

Maybe these thoughts sound familiar… 

“They don’t listen”

“I’ve told them that already”

“Why can’t they just do what they’re supposed to and stop interrupting me?” 

Have you ever thought that the problem doesn’t lie with those you’re trying to teach, but rather with your teaching method? Maybe you’re not telling them the right way. And by telling, we mean asking the right way.

 

Asking Your Team the Right Questions 

A big mistake we often make when we train new staff, is to just tell them what to do. Sure, if you don’t tell them what to do, how would they know how to do their job, right? And for the first few days, that’s exactly what you need to do. But there comes a time where you have to switch your approach from telling to asking. 

Let’s look at a few examples.

 

How do you understand your role/this process? 

You’d be surprised how often you may think someone is on the same page as you, while they’re actually in a completely different book. When you ask them to repeat the process back to you, you can easily spot the holes and correct them – and avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.

 

How do you think you should do this? 

This question is a great way to cement what you’ve taught them, especially if they’ve asked you the same question before. If you just repeat what you said previously, instead of asking them to explain it to you, you’re going to have to answer the same question a few more times. Talk about frustration overload! 

This is especially good for more technical questions. To give you a few examples of where we use this tactic at BWMD, is when we get questions like this: “I have a client query and I don’t know how to solve it”; “I’m not sure how to record this transaction”; or “How should I treat this for tax purposes?”

 

Why do you think we do it this way? 

This is a very powerful question to ask if you want the person to think a bit deeper and really understand what they’re doing. It’s also good for those instances where there isn’t a black and white answer. Not only will they grow in their knowledge and confidence, but they may also come up with ideas and solutions that you haven’t thought of before.

 

Getting into the Habit of Asking Questions 

Asking instead of telling doesn’t come naturally to everybody. It’s like a muscle you need to train, and the more you ask questions, the better you’ll get at it. 

You’ll also be pleasantly surprised when you see people learn quicker and retain what they’ve learned. They’ll also become better teachers themselves. Seeing how people grow is one of the most satisfying experiences any manager can have. 

So, next time someone asks you to explain something to you, answer their question with a question.