Guest Post By Sean Glaze

This article was originally posted at:

You have probably been raised to believe that it is your job to ask more OF your people if you are a team leadership. But that begins by asking more ABOUT them than “How are you?”

Have you ever called a coworker and HOPED the answering machine would click on? Have you ever asked somebody “how are you?” and walked past without hearing their answer?

See, a Great team Leader does more than ask “How are you?” and walk away. A great team leader or manager will ask a second, and a third, and sometimes a fourth question to truly engage the person they are depending on to be a great teammate and help the project succeed.

But there are not enough great team leaders or managers.

Instead, most team conversations fall into two categories –

There’s the “how are you?” or the “who are you?”

The “how are you” is a daily routine we go through and almost unconsciously acknowledge others with as an absentminded politeness – and the acceptable answer is “fine – how are you?” When the other person says “doing great!” we get to move on to the next person we see in the hallway and repeat the same script…

But you don’t build quality connections that way! Managers and Leaders must ask deeper questions to have deeper connections! And deeper connections create deeper commitment in your people! But managers aren’t the only ones guilty of conversational shallowness.

The “who are you” conversation is the one you have when you first meet someone at a party, or at a conference or some other event and you collect what I call “resume” information.

“What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” or “Do you have any kids?”

And these are usually followed by “Where do you work?” or “Where did you go to school?”

Those are “safe” conversations…   We have them every day, and they are comfortable and easy, but they are also “safe” questions because they keep the information in the people around us locked away!

You have to get past the “safe” questions and open them up with a combination deeper probing questions to get to the valuable and interesting stuff they have inside them! If you don’t dig any deeper than the safe “who are you?” questions, you will not learn any more about them as a person than if you had just read a resume! And you won’t build deeper connections that way!

Greater teamwork and greater trust are both based upon greater understanding of someone’s background, culture, desires, and challenges.

And the way to build deeper connections is to learn more about the people on your team.

Maybe your team would benefit from a style of influence personality profile. Maybe you just need to make a habit of asking better questions and letting your sincere interest in their situation lead to deeper and more probing follow up questions.

Look for opportunities in your interactions with teammates or others to ask deeper questions, such as…

“How do you like _________?”

or “What is your favorite thing about living in / working at _________?”

or “I chose to be a _____ because I _____… Why did you decide to ______?”

More interesting questions produce more information and build deeper connections! Remember that you don’t dig a well by poking at the surface in a dozen different spots… You dig deeper in one spot and eventually the conversation and water flows! Great teamwork and great trust are both based upon greater understanding of someone’s background, culture, desires, and challenges.

If you are looking for ways to build teamwork in your group, I encourage you to consider the benefits of a team building speaker or a team personality types assessment to help focus your people on building stronger and more productive relationships.

Note from Bob:  Here are some of my favorite Deeper Questions:

1.  Where were you born?  What was it like being brought up there?  What did you do for fun as you grew up?

2.  Who has left their fingerprints on your life?  What Leaders have opened doors for you?

3.  What was your first job when you entered the workforce?  What did you love about that job?  What parts of that job zapped your energy?  How about your second job?

I would love to learn from you:  What are some of your favorite “Deeper Questions?”

My friend Sean Glaze is an experienced author, speaker, and team-building coach, who engages and influences audiences with a unique blend of dynamic content, interactive activities, and practical action steps. If you are interested in team development or need a team building speaker for an upcoming event, you can reach him at It was a great privilege for me to have breakfast with Sean two weeks ago when he was in the Dallas area for a speaking engagement!

(You can also follow him on twitter for teamwork insights and resources!)

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