Often, employees don’t reveal (or know) the root cause of an issue immediately. Instead, they start a conversation with superficial information or merely the basics. As a result, you have to dig in a bit to determine what is really happening.
Probing questions help you explore a topic fully. Asking the employee to elaborate on what they mean or describe the degree to which an issue is impacting them can help you offer a solution. Alternatively, probing questions may allow them to discover their own answers, which is also beneficial.
Closed-ended questions – those that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” – usually aren’t very valuable. When you ask closed-ended questions, your employees don’t have to reveal any details, which makes it harder to move the conversation forward.
Open-ended questions are the opposite. They require a more lengthy response, and replies to them are typically more thoughtful.
For example, asking, “Is this working for you?” – a closed-ended question – might not get you more than a “yes” or “no.” In contrast, asking “What isn’t working well?” – an open-ended question – encourages them to dig deeper, outlining the issue they are facing.
An open-ended question also makes it easier for the worker to steer the conversation in a direction that benefits them. They can easily share their opinions and thoughts, or even drawn their own conclusions. Then, you can use that information to identify a solution that works for everyone.
When you are trying to coach an employee, simply telling them what to do may not lead to growth. Instead, you want the worker to consider a new perspective and learn to work through problems, and that can mean not sharing advice based purely on your experience.
Hypothetical questions give you an opportunity to explore the employee’s knowledge and understanding. As a result, you can better gauge what sort of information would benefit them most from a growth perspective. Additionally, you are encouraging the development of problem-solving skills, something that will serve them well in their career.
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All of the question types above can make you a better coach to your employees. If you would like to know more, the staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your questions with a member of our knowledgeable team today and see how our employee coaching expertise can benefit you.