- On October 6, 2015
What is the most powerful question you can ask when an employee has a problem?
— How would you like me to help you think about this? —
Yet, what’s our natural tendency?
We make comparisons:
“Oh I had something like that happen to me once, let me tell you what I did.”
We give advice:
“Well you should look at this…or do that.”
We question their capacity:
“If you don’t think you can handle it, I can give it to someone else.”
We put more pressure on:
“This one can’t fail.”
We advocate more of the same:
“You’ll figure it out. You just have to work a little harder.”
We take it away:
“OK give me what you’ve got and I’ll take it from there.”
What if, instead, we tried to help them think it through on their own?
When people are stuck it may be because they are caught in a revolving pattern in their mind. What they are doing doesn’t quite fit something they already know. The pressure to live up to expectations, meet objectives, under the gun of a deadline may be flowing stress chemicals through their body, making it harder to access their complex problem-solving
It’s an easy question— How would you like me to help you think about this?
And there is a HUGE pre-condition: TRUST.
“I can’t seem to break through that sales goal” When I tell you that, I need to know I won’t be penalized for coming to you with an issue that seems unsolvable for me right now. I don’t want you to do it for me. I want you to encourage me through it.
How would you like me to help you think about this?
Maybe… some brainstorming on ideas
Maybe…some ideas on other resources to try.
Maybe…exploring what is holding me back? …a poor performing employee, changing objectives, lack of communications between sales and engineering…
Maybe…a story of how you’ve worked through something similar.
What will work for me?
You won’t know unless you ask: How would you like me to help you think about this?
[for more insight on how to help your team learn how to think, see David Rock’s book: Quiet Leadership]