Coaching and Skills Development

Ask, don't tell

Telling your team the answers won't help them learn or grow. Asking them questions will.

When you see someone on your team struggling with something, resist the urge to dive in and tell them what to do. Instead, take a leaf out of Socrates’ book and ask a few good questions. To start with, it’ll help you understand the problem better. It’s easy to make bad assumptions, and trying to “help” without really understanding what’s going on will just wind your team member up. Asking good questions will uncover new information and help overcome biases, including your own.

Asking questions will also help the team member get to the root cause of the problem. This isn’t much help if it’s an obvious problem. But if they’re doing something in an unusual or unhelpful way, asking questions will get them to think about why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Finally, asking questions helps the team member to solve the problem themselves. Not only is that more rewarding, but it’ll reduce the chances of them doing the same thing wrong in future. You won’t just have solved them problem, you’ll have helped them draw their own conclusions and learn from the experience.

Looking for more?

Our weekly thought starters give you a moment of reflection every Monday morning.

Please enter a valid email address

Already signed up but looking for more? Check out our full subscription.

Already have a subscription? Sign in now