In a candid conversation, a client shared his concern that he and others don’t ask the right questions when getting updates from direct reports. He said, “We ask yes/no questions that don’t encourage introspection. Questions like, ‘Is the project done?’ Or, ‘Do you have what you need?’”

Instead, he suggested, and I agree, that we learn to ask open-ended questions that reinforce a commitment to growth, innovation and healthy risk-taking. Questions that invite employees to share what they’re struggling with before it’s too late to course correct. Here are a few suggestions that work at the office and quite frankly, at home, too.

What’s something new that you tried this week? What surprises did you encounter today? What have you tried recently that didn’t work well? What did that teach to you? In this age of disruption, bosses and employees need to get comfortable with things not always being perfect. Free flowing communication can ignite creativity and boost productivity.


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