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?”
(You can also follow him on twitter for teamwork insights and resources!)
Which of your friends would thank you if you forwarded this post to them?
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