Did you know that children ask almost 300 questions a day? But as people get older, they become increasingly reluctant to ask questions. This shouldn't be the case. In fact, questions are the most under-utilised tool for driving personal and business performance. Asking the right questions is a guaranteed way to boost business success. Here's why.
Why questions are the key to success
There’s a common misconception that asking questions - especially in a business environment - is a sign of stupidity. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Various studies have shown that the ability to ask the right questions is a sign of intelligence, and one of the characteristics of highly successful people.
Someone who asks questions has a number of qualities that are desirable in a business atmosphere:
- High level of engagement: To be asking pertinent questions, a person has to be highly engaged in the topic matter.
- Curiosity and inquisitiveness: Curious people, eager to learn about the world and asking thoughtful questions, are the type of people who can help generate fresh new ideas.
- Desire for learning and development: Asking questions means that you’re opening your mind to new possibilities and information.
Questions: the secret to driving business performance
We’ve already seen how someone who asks questions has the type of qualities that any type of business would want in their employees. But how can questions benefit a business as a whole?
- Generate new ideas: By fostering a non-judgemental environment in the office when asking questions, you can be sure that people will be more willing to think outside the box. From this, new ideas will flow.
- Come up with solutions: Asking questions encourages you to break out of your normal thinking patterns. This can be a gateway to creativity and thinking about solutions you hadn’t considered before.
- Help encourage thinking and understanding: Questions need answers. While seeking the answers to questions, you’re pushed into a deeper state of thinking, and by doing this you can develop your understanding of a topic too.
To facilitate this, companies ought to make sure that they’re creating an atmosphere of open-mindedness, so that everyone feels comfortable asking questions without fear of judgement or reprimand.
Why asking the right type of question is important
So, we’ve established that asking questions is important. But asking just any question might not get the results you want. It’s definitely the case that asking the right type of question is the key to harnessing questions as a powerful tool.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
On the one hand, you have questions which can lead to personal growth and understanding, as well as sparking new ideas and solutions. Such as:
- “How can I improve on this for next time?”
- “How can I help out/be of assistance on this project?”
- “If I were a customer, what would I want from our system?”
- “How can I measure the impact of the feature we’ve just released?”
On the other hand, questions which carry some sort of negative sentiment can be unhelpful, and create an atmosphere of negativity rather than problem-solving. For example:
- “Who is to blame for this?” (Instead, ask “How can we solve this problem?”)
- “Why don’t you understand this?” (Instead, ask “How can I help you to understand this” or “Shall I explain this in a different way to help you understand?”)
- “Why aren’t customers enjoying this feature?” (Instead, ask “What can we do to improve customers' enjoyment of this feature?" )
Why asking the same question over time can reveal trends AND fosters company transparency
While there’s an obvious advantage in asking different questions to generate different ideas and solutions, asking the same question at regular intervals can be beneficial too. What are some examples of situations where this might be useful?
- Employee feedback survey: Surveys are a great way to check the pulse of your organisation. You can use them to receive regular feedback, gather ideas and check your employees for happiness and alignment.
- Team performance survey: If all team managers are assigned the same performance survey to assess how their team members are doing, then performance measurement across different teams (and even offices) can be unified. By taking these surveys monthly, a manager will be able to see how their team is progressing over time, too. You can then notice trends which help you to provide insights.
- Customer feedback survey on a feature: By taking a monthly pulse of how your customers are liking a feature, you can track how the developments you make to that feature affect their happiness. Hopefully you should see the satisfaction rating go upwards over time!
In all these cases, since the questions are the same each time, it’s a great idea to automate the survey to run on a cycle at an interval of your choosing - weekly, once a fortnight, or even monthly. That way there’s no risk of forgetting about it.
When asking the same questions across the company, there's also the added benefit of fairness and transparency, since everyone - no matter which team or what office they're in - is being asked the same set of questions.
It's also important to have good reporting on surveys, so that you can see results over time at a glance. This way you can monitor the answers - whether that’s employee happiness or team performance - and act accordingly, if you feel something needs to be changed.
Great! I'm ready to ask more questions now. What's next?
We hope we’ve encouraged you to see that there’s far more can be gained than lost from asking questions. Asking the right type of questions is a sure-fire way to develop not only personal understanding and intelligence, but also a way to generate ideas and solutions which could be hugely beneficial to your business.
Here at Learn Amp, our software facilitates the automated setting of surveys on cycles, as well as advanced reporting on the responses. To find out more, visit our website or book a demo to see what we're all about!