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“What’s the real challenge here for you?”
When we jump into problem-solving before we have a complete understanding of the issue from the employee’s point of view, we tend to solve the part of the problem that we assume they are struggling with which may or may not be accurate.
By asking this question, you’ll get a clear picture of the precise element that your team member is struggling with.
Now, you’re ready to help them explore their options to achieve better outcomes.
Ask this question more than once. Stanier says he typically asks it at least three times, and rarely more than 5 times. “As a general rule, people ask this question too few times rather than too many,” he says.
This question slows you down and holds you back from giving advice too soon. Too many leaders are quick to jump into problem-solving mode.
While this might feel helpful to you in the moment, it doesn’t teach your team members how to solve problems for themselves.
ockquote>Talk less and ask more.
Your advice is not as good
As you think it is.
Feedback is backward-looking and corrective. It doesn’t allow for exploration or possibility.
Coaching is preparative. It involves less telling and more questioning.
"What's on your mind?"
This question is open enough that it grants your team member autonomy to guide the conversation whichever way they’d like, while also being focused on cutting right to the chase and getting after what matters most to them.
Once they’ve shared what’s on their mind, simply say, “So, there are three sides of [insert problem] that we can look at here — people, project, or patterns. Where do you want to start?”
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