We talk about engagement, but it does not appear too often if one looks at the myriad of statistics and surveys about the workplace. My personal view is that too many supervisors have too much task interference to actually communicate well and build consensus on performance improvement and team-based initiatives.
Consultant friend Brian Remer posted up an excellent summary about powerful questions and improving how we communicate about issues of workplace improvement. You can read it here.
The thrust of his post is that we can ask better questions and positively impact thinking and decision making. It is his focus to improve teamwork and make discussions of issues and opportunities more straightforward.
“Powerful questions that focus on meaning also challenge mental models and basic assumptions. They bring people to a deeper level and encourage a more creative response to what could otherwise be a “complaint” or “blame” session.”
This is a short read, but a solid one, with a couple of illustrating graphics. The Architecture / Structure of the question is one dimension with the “How” and “What” questions being optimal for eliciting information. The Scope of the question is what frames the situation and the context of the discussion. The Meaning of the question revolves around the mental models of those involved.
Related to the above are the Intention and the Tone of how things are presented. This involves the issues of interactive history and trust as well as the style of the discussion leader. I am reminded of that old NLP quote,
“We judge ourselves by our intentions.
We judge others by their behavior.”
Closely related to Brian’s post is the writing of Dan Rockwell in his post about Leadership Sherlocking, where he also focuses on asking questions and the related issues of communication. You can find Dan’s article here and you can read my illustrated blog about my take on his ideas by clicking on the icon below.
There is a good bit of clear thinking out there when it comes to asking questions to involve and engage people. What is a bit frustrating is that more of our supervisory and management people are apparently not being effective in how they are communicating with their people on workplace improvement discussions.
Performance Management Company sells a variety of inexpensive and highly effective illustration-based toolkits for improving teamwork and implementing innovation and engaging people in the workplace. Check out our simple and straightforward toolkit for facilitation by clicking on the icon below:
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Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
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