1. Scale it up – when someone is agreeing or thinking about agreeing to do something, ask them on a scale from 1 to 10 how committed they are. Follow it up by asking what would need to happen / change for them to get a slightly higher score. If you have even more time, ask them again what would need to be different to get an even greater score. Just stay curious as to how high you can get them to go from their original score.
2. Sense check – at the start of a team meeting or training session with a group ask them to sense check on a scale of 1 to 5 how focused they are feeling right now (scoring silently in their heads) then inviting them to take a minute to do what they need to do to get the highest score possible. Remember to give them a minute and signal that you’re about to begin.
3. Be in AWE – we sometimes think we need to ask really great, impactful and dare I say it, clever questions when sometimes all we need to ask is – and what else? The trick is being prepared to listen and ask again. People and problems can sometimes be like an onion, you need to keep asking ‘and what else’ to really get to the middle of the situation.
4. Turn it around – direct reports can get accustomed to asking you for advice or to give them a guiding hand, but there comes a point when you need to let step back to allow them to step up. One way of breaking this conversational habit is by turning the question around by asking ‘what would I do / say in your shoes?
5.Circle of influence – keeping people on track to change and to make improvements for the good of the team can often get side tracked on how things would only be better if someone or something changed. Bring the conversation back to their circle of influence, what they have the power and gift to stop, start or do differently.
6. Mind your language – spend some time on listening to how you ask questions of those around you. Are you asking questions that are looking to fix a problem or asking questions to find a solution? When we ask a solution-focused question we are tapping into people’s pre-frontal cortex and their ability to problem solve.
7. Musical chairs – instead of assuming the chair role for your next meeting, ask someone to take your seat and manage the agenda on your behalf. Giving someone a different role within the group changes the dynamic of the meeting and removes some of the expectation from you as the manager to tell and sell.
8. Press pause – managers often assume that they must be ready at a moments notice to step in and give advice or support. This can be true for certain situations, but often we can default to a habit of helping when in fact we need to enable the other person to help themselves. If the issue or question isn’t time critical, press the pause button and suggest that you will go away and think about it and ask them to do the same, and to return the next day to compare notes. Next time, ask them for their solution, and none is found suggest giving them more time or hint where they might find the solution.
9. Turn a can’t into a can – when hearing endless reasons as to why something can’t be done, ask ‘what can’. To really get buy in from the other person, follow up the what with ‘when can you’ and ‘how will you know it’s done/ worked / successful?’
10. Making it small – not everyone can think and dream big, in fact, change can feel quite daunting. So instead of thinking big, think small and ask them what could be the smallest change possible, and just like scales keep going backwards making the task or behaviour as small as possible. Once they’ve identified the action or behaviour follow it with ‘when’ and ‘how they will know’.