Want to be a Boss? Do You Ask the Right Questions?

16 Sep

If you want to be an effective boss, you need to know how to ask questions.  Not asking the right question could lead your company to make fatal errors with the company’s operations.  Insightful questions provoke thought about new possibilities and scenarios for your company to grow.  In Ron Ashkenas’ “The Art of Asking Questions,” Ron classifies three major areas to address when improving questioning: 1) yourself, 2) plans and projects, and 3) the organization. 

Ask questions about yourself. This type of question is the most beneficial of all three. Regardless of whether you are a boss or just an employee, you cannot improve without identifying the problem that needs to be fixed. You need to be open to accepting perspectives others hold about you if you want to effectively change.  During my internship this summer, I constantly asked how I could improve.  My colleagues identified key traits that I could improve on, including perception management. In fact, they said that I improved the most out of any other intern they had ever had. I attribute this improvement to my ability to question. 

Ask question about plans and projects. In order to make sure that a project runs smoothly, you need to ask the right questions to avoid roadblocks and other issues that could arise in the future. Even if you have a solution, asking for colleagues’ opinions could identify an even better one. For example, a senior project manager, who I reported to this summer asked about a specific process in their new product launch plan. Because of his questioning, they were able to identify a problem of coordination between departments that they didn’t know about before. If unidentified, this problem could have caused a delay in the launch date. 

Ask questions about the organization. In order to be an effective boss, you need to be thinking in terms of the big picture. Asking your colleagues questions about the organization emphasizes the company’s goals.  This reminder inspires workers to improve the organization and provides ideas about increasing the organization’s efficiency. During my summer internship at the marketing firm, the vice president of the project management office asked questions about any conflicts that were hurting the organization. I saw growth in the significance of the project management office within the company because the vice presidents questions were able to ignite thinking and inspire his colleagues to identify ways to improve the organization. At the beginning of my internship, some employees didn’t understand the point of the project management office. By the end of internship, all of the departments begged the project management office to help them. The project management office continued to grow rapidly and help the organization.

As Ron Ashenas discussed, you will become an exceptional manager by improving your question abilities in these three areas: yourself, plans and projects, and the organization. As long as you ask unbiased questions and you listen openly, you can become an inspiring leader.

Hyperlink to Ron Ashkenas’ “The Art of Asking Questions”: http://blogs.hbr.org/ashkenas/2011/08/the-art-of-asking-questions.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#.Tl3JCjET1c4.twitter

by Mario Sotela

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