I met with a client who manages a popular restaurant and is well liked by his team. He wants everyone on his team to shine, but some are inconsistent in their performance and it frustrates him. He dreads having to “be stern” with them because that’s not his style, but he has to address it. It’s eating him up inside.
I suggested he ask them ‘What’ instead of ‘Why’ questions.
-What causes you to do a good job some days and not others?
-What would it take for you to be consistent in your performance every day?
-What impact do you think your performance has on the rest of the team?
His immediate reaction was that maybe something or someone up the line was impacting their job on certain days. He also realized he does not know these employees as well as those who do a good job.
‘What’ questions usually generate a different response than ‘Why’ questions. I asked him, “What would happen if you met with these employees individually and let them know you are concerned about their performance and asked what you could do to help them be successful?” He thought for a moment, then said he felt a difference in his own reaction to ‘What’ instead of “Why..…”
This shifted his perspective about what is possible with these employees and with his natural management style. Asking ‘What….’ enables him to be himself to get to the heart of the situation. He doesn’t have to be the dreaded stern disciplinarian.
What would asking ‘What’ questions do for you? I encourage you to try it and see if you get a different reaction.