Two Questions For Big Results

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Have you ever thought you could get more from your team meetings? Searched for ideas to be more creative and engage staff more meaningfully? Considered how to improve your team’s brainstorming or planning sessions? How to strengthen your presentation skills at the executive table or even get meaningful feedback on how you’re perceived by a key client or an important set of stakeholders?

executive leadershipWhen I debrief leaders on their narrative 360 feedback results, they will describe how they usually seek feedback regarding their work and how they ‘show up.’ When things really go sideways, they get plenty of feedback directly from others – no surprise there. But if all goes uneventfully, they usually skip the feedback process or use more formal tools like checklists or online surveys on an infrequent basis.

As a leader, two of the most powerful questions you can consistently and routinely ask of others at the conclusion of group events, such as team meetings, planning events, working sessions, board discussions and staff presentations, are:

1. What worked well?

2. What could have been different or improved?

These questions are surprisingly simple, amazingly effective and yet rarely asked, at least on a regular basis.

It is important to ask ‘what worked well?’ first and foremost. Even if the meeting or event didn’t go particularly well, wait patiently – even amid uncomfortable silence – until at least one or more favourable responses emerge. Then transition to ‘what could have been different or improved?’ Notice that you’re not asking, ‘what didn’t go well?’ Rather, you’re challenging participants to identify potential ideas and solutions to address things that didn’t go well. You don’t want to dwell on the negative but rather focus on improvements and next steps.

clear requirementsOnce you start down this path, you’ll be amazed at how comfortable asking these two powerful questions becomes. Participants are much more willing to engage in the provision of actionable feedback in real time and strengthening their ownership in future group events. Depending on your level of comfort, you can also extend the use of these two questions directly after one-on-one interactions with others. You’ll be surprised at how the resulting dialogue strengthens future interactions and communications.

To really leverage these two powerful questions, here are some additional implementation tips:

  1. Actively solicit feedback: Make sure you routinely and consistently reach out to participants; make a habit of asking for feedback at the conclusion of your group events
  2. Be clear about intention: Consistently reinforce that you’re seeking feedback to improve things not to find fault or cast blame
  3. Avoid defensiveness: Listen actively, avoid responding in the moment unless asking for more clarity about the feedback
  4. Give thanks: Recognize and thank people for providing feedback that enhances group effectiveness and performance
  5. Act on appropriate feedback: While you won’t be able to implement all the suggestions, highlight those that will be incorporated into future events and keep participants informed about how previous feedback has influenced and informed your group sessions

If you want to find out more about getting in-depth, insightful and actionable feedback on your executive leadership, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at [email protected] or +1-250-882-8830.

About The Author

Scott Borland, Founder & President of CYGNUS Management Consultants Inc, , is a recognized expert in helping executives host strategic conversations and obtain high impact feedback. He brings insightful perspective and proven strategies to strengthen the alignment between strategy and leadership behaviour. Scott has presented frequently at regional/national conferences and is a regular contributor to online journals/blogs. Follow Scott on Twitter or add him as a connection on LinkedIn.

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