How to ask great questions: Five tips for managers

Written by Richard Young Wednesday 07 December 2022
Asking the right type of questions, with the right language, for the right purpose not only make you a more knowledgeable manager – they can help shape your teams’ thinking and effectiveness. This is how to do it
A person with their hand up asking a question

All managers should have great techniques for asking good questions. But in the information age, this skill isn’t as well honed as it should be; a lot of the things we need to know are findable at the stroke of a few keys now. And in the hybrid office, there’s much less casual questioning. We’ve simply got out of the habit of asking efficient and effective questions. 

That’s bad news, say the management thinkers. Take sales guru Tony Robbins: “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” 

But it’s another guru, Dale Carnegie, who nails it for team leaders: “Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable; it often stimulates the creativity of the persons whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused it to be issued.”

Knowing how to ask a question can help you hire the right candidate or evaluate how well someone has understood something, for example. Without this crucial skill, you massively reduce opportunities for valuable interpersonal engagement, too, particularly within your teams’ wellbeing and personal development – so you can’t afford to fudge the volume and effectiveness of question technique.

If you’re lucky enough to have good questioners in your organisation, stop reading here and go listen to them for a bit. (They’re usually easy to spot: think of the most interesting conversationalists in your organisation, and nine times out of ten they’ll be the best at asking questions. Your sales team probably has some great questioners, for example.)

What do you want to know about being a better questioner…?


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