Once again I assert that to be a professional manager one has to deviate from normal human behavior to do the right thing. Expecting others to “get it” by telling them what to do is extremely ineffective. However, learning how to skillfully ask the right question, and in a way that promotes thinking, is the most helpful and caring way to assist another person. I hope you like this week’s management principle.
Developing Others. The two questions I love to ask are: “Who likes to be told what to do?” and, “Whose thinking do you like best?” The unequivocal answers are “No-one,” and “My own!” This human condition creates a problem in the management process. The dilemma–how do we provide guidance and instruction for our staff in a way that they will adopt, favor and own the input? It’s guaranteed that if you are a telling boss, people will resist you. If you are a suggesting boss, they won’t respect or take you seriously. Those with true professional management skills know how to make people “think it” long before they have to say it. It’s a process of developing others through learner-based questions in a spirit of discovery. The amateur will say it takes too much time, but they will waste time and emotional energy by answering the same questions over and over again. Changing people won’t cure the problem-it’s an issue of management style. Good questions promote dialog, while bad questions tend to be interrogative in nature and shut down debate.
Coaching questions: How often do you use discovery-based questions to develop your staff? How can you improve?
Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.