The Power of Encouraging Your People to Ask Great Questions


If you watch small children, they are constantly asking ‘why’? Yes it drives us mad, but that’s how they learn.

At what point do we STOP asking questions do you think? And WHY do we stop asking questions?


When: I’m picking that we stop asking questions around the teen years; mostly because we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves in the classroom – we want to look cool and sophisticated. Asking a question might draw the wrong kind of attention to us....our classmates might think we are sucking up to the teacher or perhaps that we are just plain ‘dumb’.


Why: In the workplace we are not encouraged to ask questions because our questions may make our boss or our co-workers look dumb. I’m sure you’ve been there – you are new into a job and you ask someone ‘why do you do it that way?’ and you will get the usual response – ‘we’ve always done it that way.’ And even if you are really courageous and dare to suggest that you could show that person a better way to do whatever it is they are doing – then you will get the ‘look’. The look that says – who are you and what do YOU know about anything. You’ve only been here 5 minutes.


And so rather than risk getting offside with our new co-workers, we stop asking and do it the way they’ve always done it, even though you really could have shown them a quicker way, or a cheaper way to do whatever it is.   


And pretty soon we all stop asking questions at all. Which is a total tragedy because it’s only by asking questions that we work out what’s working and what isn’t. Ways that we can improve; speed up; simplify or even eliminate altogether.


The 5 questions every organisation should encourage are:


  • Why – as in why do we do it this way and is there a better way?
  • Who do we know that does this and has found a better way?
  • When did we start doing it this way, and does the reason we started doing it this way still stand?
  • Where can we go to find information or systems or processes that could help us streamline?
  • How could we do this differently given all the information we’ve just discovered by asking all these question?

Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. If you are a team leader or manager, then the most important part of your job is to encourage people to question everything. Scary I know – but how will you ever improve if you don’t ask great questions?


If you want a whole raft of great products to help you improve your ‘questioning’ skills – head over to Lindsay Tighe’s website – Better Questions – and be amazed at the improved results you will achieve.



Ann Andrews CSP

MD The Corporate Toolbox


Ann Andrews CSP specialises in working with high performing teams and showing managers how to deal with poor performance.

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