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> Five great questions that can radically improve your team's performance ...

April 10, 2017

Tim had been working in my team for three months and I was getting increasingly frustrated with his performance, or should I say his lack of performance. He had come highly recommended and I couldn't work out why he just wasn't achieving the outcomes he had been brought into the team to achieve. Then one day it all changed because of a question.

In my 25 years as an organisational leader and team development specialist, I have found that one of the keys to increasing performance are the questions we ask.

Here are five questions I have found extremely effective.

  1. How best can I communicate with you? Communicating in their preferred style conveys respect. But often as leaders, we impose our preferred communication style onto others. For example, I like tasks that I need to complete to be sent in an email. And each email should contain one idea summarised in the header. But some people prefer a phone call, a face-to-face meeting, a text, a written note, etc.
  2. What motivates you? We mustn't assume that what motivates us motivates them. For example, some people are motivated by the idea of a bonus, some by having flexibility in their work, others by being able to work from home, and some by a public acknowledgement of their work.
  3. What is something that would make you job easier? Sometimes it's a lack of resources or permission that is getting in the way of better performance. For example, my productivity increased when I got a stand-up desk.
  4. What is something that is making your job harder than it needs to be? This is similar but subtly different to the above question and it's likely to bring out different issues.
  5. What is the one thing I could do to help you succeed in your role [or in this project]? This question lets your team member know that your role as a leader is to help them achieve their job.

Oh, and by the way, what was that question I asked Tim? It was question five. And the answer was simply he was struggling to get time with some pivotal decision makers and I was able to make a phone call right then and there to solve that problem.

Tim went on to become one of my most trusted and effective work colleagues.

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