Distinctive Coaching | The Fastest Way to Create Superstar Employees
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The Fastest Way to Create Superstar Employees

Your business success, and the enjoyment of your work, is very dependent on developing high performers on your team and in your company.

Imagine having only superstars supporting you, working for you, assisting you, helping customers for you, developing new ideas, innovations, products and services for you…

What would your world look like?

How far could you and your business go?

To have your team or business filled with high-performing, dedicated superstar employees who love what they do, are empowered, take ownership and put their heart and soul into your business would be pretty great, to put it mildly.

But you usually don’t have these people fall into your lap. You have to get them there.

The first step is to ask yourself, “Am I asking enough questions every day?”

For most of us, the answer is “no.” 

Let’s take a look at why…

Because we are busy. We’re used to answering questions and problem solving to get to a solution as quickly as possible.

We’ve been taught a “shortcut” management style:

– I tell you what to do.
– You do it.
– If you have a question, ask me.
– I’ll answer it.
– Then you do it.

But…

What if instead of just answering questions, we ask questions, and these questions are designed to cultivate new flows of ideas, identities and creative thinking in our employees, and to give us better understanding of their motivations and thought processes, so we can see how they learn, how they work, why they work that way, and how we can direct them to improve with their own ideas?

Here are some examples in everyday work conversations:

– What would be your ideal outcome for the project?
– What¹s the best thing that could happen to you/this project/the team right now?
– What would happen if we could double our effectiveness in this area?
– What could you do to make yourself thrive in your role?
– What’s the biggest challenge in getting this finished? What else? What else?
– What if you got twice as much done in your day?
– What would it be like if all the steps to complete this initiative were effortless?
– What would be the best part about that?
– What are the options to make that happen?

Take another look at that list of questions above.

What do all those above questions have in common? 

They are open-ended questions.

They don’t look for a “yes” or a “no” but instead for some original thought in the answer.

They don’t communicate judgment or bias towards the pending answers, and they don¹t imply an expectation of specific answers.

Therefore, because they are “opinion neutral” and open-ended, they empower the person being asked to come up with their own original answer, leading to a clearer vision of direction, increased motivation, creative thinking, new ideas and better results.

Finally, they all start with the word “what”.

As we all learned in school, questions can start with many different words, and we’ve been taught to mix it up. But the questions above, and many other powerful questions that can change your business, working relationships and spur success, typically start with the word “what.”

What’s with the “what”?

Like learning any new skill, changing your asking habits is not always easy.

Questions starting with the world “why” are the ones that usually pop into our heads.

They are shorter and often seem more to the point.

In our world, we value brevity and directness.

Time is valuable, so we like quick thinking, quick acting and quick fixing. But “why” questions are often leading, negatively charged or rhetorical, all of which negate the point of asking.

“Why did you do that?”

This is a common one for all of us. Often it may carry a hidden judgment meaning that you did something wrong, and it may sound more like a statement than a question.

Consider a common scenario, such as a manager looking for feedback or a better understanding from an employee on something the employee wrote.

“Why did you write it that way?”

This question from a manager can make an employee worry about coming up with the “right” answer or feel they have to justify their work. But it’s possible the manager was just curious about the choice of words, and not intending to communicate an opinion or a judgment. 

A better alternative question might be:

“What are you hoping the reader takes away from this?”

This gets past the subconscious judgment defense and empowers the employee to provide to the underlying information you want.

It digs deeper to stimulate critical thinking and determine the possible outcomes of the work, not the emotional reasoning of the employee when they wrote it. It gets to the real issue faster and in a more supportive way, which in turn empowers the employee to do their best work, and further builds the relationship between manager and employee.

You might even use a “what” question to follow up a question that you are asked by an employee:

Employee:
“Should I go ahead and start the project we discussed Thursday?”

You could reply with, “No, I don¹t think you’re ready, because…” But think about what would happen if you used one of the following:

– “What are some of the alternatives?”
– “What would be the outcome if you waited until ____________ (a certain date, change in circumstance, other piece finished first)?”
– “What are the possible benefits to doing it right away?”
– “What are the possible benefits to waiting?”

Here’s another superstar way to ask “what” questions:

When one of your staff asks a simple Yes or No question to check their knowledge on something or a procedural issue, instead of answering it, reply with a question that will help them see a bigger picture, practice using their intuition or provide confidence that they already know the answer.

Often times, the answer you get back may actually give you feedback that you hadn’t considered, taking things in a completely new direction.

Improving your decision-making process, encouraging teamwork, and having better quality results are just a few of the effects you get when you ask great questions of your employees. There are countless others.

Your homework…
  
So, you now you have it – ask more questions!

Open-ended questions. 

Questions that start with “what.” 

And let¹s see what happens.

To your success!
Jason

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