Tag Archives: questions

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information highway

Information Highway and the Dangers of the Path

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Are you traveling on the information highway? Do you realize the path that you are on?

Many people believe they are on information overload. A problem that is created when so much information is available or forced in front of you the average person gives up.

They give up because it is too much to digest in too short of a period of time. Frustrated and anxious, they check-out, they cannot consume or absorb anything additional.

It is true for most of our mainstream news. It may be true on social media channels, true at conferences, true in our workplace meetings, and even true in classrooms and seminars. Overload, too much, too fast, and too ambiguous.

Information Highway

The thing of it is, most people don’t just shut down when they are on information overload. They try to make sense of it all. Often they do that through conversation and questions.

People sort, they sort through the waves of information and look for what they believe to be real. It may be confirmation bias at play. What fits their own personal narrative. Will it benefit them or make things more difficult?

Benefits are welcomed and absorbed, difficulties get set aside or ignored.

We are creatures of habit and ease. We often don’t listen well because listening requires discipline and takes effort. Most people prefer to listen for key words and decide if they’ll engage or daydream.

What Path Are You On?

It is all about the information and delivery.

What if you could make a difference today? Imagine sorting through the waves of information quickly and getting to the truth. Then imagine the ability to disseminate the important and truthful information while actually being heard.

The biggest danger of the information highway is the path of one-sided communication. It is the path without questions, conversations, or scrutiny.

Have more conversations, more dialog, and develop deeper meaning. Sharing in the story is a powerful way to tell it.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace questions

Workplace Questions Are More Powerful

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Many people want to make a statement. Shout it out, get it out, capture some attention. Have you ever considered that workplace questions are more powerful than statements?

It is common that people will make a statement hoping to solicit some response. There are times when it is the quest for deeper understanding of an important issue and times when it is just stirring the pot.

Statements and Problems

One trouble spot with statements is that they often tend to place or shift blame. This isn’t problem solving. It may represent an attempt to establish the problem identity but likely not problem solving.

The truck left early yesterday and some orders didn’t ship.

The meeting was supposed to start at 9:00 AM and no one is here.

Last month sales dropped 10 percent. Customers don’t like the new product line.

Statements have their purpose, but questions are typically more helpful for problem solving and root cause analysis.

What can we do to improve time coordination with our shipping vendor?

Is 9:00 AM a good time to hold the meeting, should it be 8:30 or 9:30 instead?

Have we had any feedback about our new product line?

Workplace Questions

Questions are often more powerful for learning and for teaching. Show and tell is sometimes important, but gaining buy-in and understanding of purpose happens through reflection. Reflection is prompted through inquiry.

Your brand makes promises about timing, quality, and effectiveness. The solopreneur does those things as an individual. The very small business with just a few people.

As headcount grows something is sometimes lost in the message. Telling the story may help. Asking about the moral of the story without telling prompts reflection. Reflection solidifies knowledge transfer.

The next time you want to make a statement consider how helpful it may be. Would a question be more powerful?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace action

Workplace Action Is About Questions

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How are things going? How is business, are you busy? At any venue where there is business networking, you may hear these questions. Is your workplace action about questions?

People expect to hear that you are busy. Of course, the often-unspoken question is, “Busy at doing what?”

Questions Drive Action

Whether you are considering individual contributions each day or if you are at the helm of a multimillion-dollar organization, being busy really isn’t the point. While it may represent a polite way to start a conversation, being successful is much more important.

Busy can be an excuse. We hear it when we ask for volunteers, when there are deadlines, or when there is grunge work to be done.

A better question may be, “How is your prioritization going?”

You can sit in a rocking chair and be rocking, you are busy rocking, but you aren’t going anywhere. Doing the most productive things may have more relevance.

Shaping Workplace Action

Communication shapes the mindset of the team. If the question seems to center around being busy then demonstrating busy becomes most important.

You can be busy typing an email, busy walking to visit someone in a different department, or just busy looking busy.

The EHS specialist, the Sales Manager, and the Controller typically aren’t so reactive to busy. They are reactive to a different set of data. The question may be, “How are the numbers?”

Of course, the focus then becomes about the numbers, not busy. “Can you do lunch today?” may be met with, “Not today, I’m crunching the numbers.”

Communication is driving the culture of the organization. From buzzwords to bulletin boards, what is communicated becomes the focus.

Be careful what questions you ask.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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meeting questions

Meeting Questions Without Knowing The Answers

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Meeting management, meeting etiquette, and the list of attendees, what drives the output from a workplace meeting? Often meeting questions feel responsible for the output. Should we already know the answers to these questions?

Meeting Observer

When you attend a meeting as an observer something strange happens. You aren’t really engaged, you are observing from a different seat. Sometimes physically and literally true.

As an observer, often your only expectation is to keep quiet. This different view allows you to have a different perspective.

What does an observer notice?

The group dynamics associated with meetings can become interesting. We know from Bruce W. Tuckman theories that groups go through four or five stages of development. What behaviors, if any, are conditioned by the dynamics?

An observer, with good listening skills, may notice that there is a flow to meeting questions and the associated answers.

Meeting Questions

Meeting participants may follow a certain question and answer protocol depending on the meeting and group dynamics. Here are a few examples:

  1. Questions are a test. There is a right answer and a wrong answer. Questions aren’t driving things forward they are responsible only to confirm or command.
  2. Status questions. These questions typical apply to paths of known engagement. What is the status of the project or what are the sales figures for the month?
  3. Direction questions. Where do we go from here? What path should we choose? What are the options?

Perhaps deeper consideration should go into the list of attendees, the purpose of the meeting, and are these meetings effective?

Questions that are a test can likely be managed without calling a meeting. Status questions can likely be answered without calling a meeting. Direction questions may be an effective use of everyone’s time.

What is the direction the meetings you attend?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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customer service answers

Customer Service Answers Not Questions

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What is the absolute best customer service action? Often it is about being able to supply the answers before the customer knows the question. Are you delivering customer service answers?

The ABC’s of customer service tell us that customer service is about a feeling. It is perception, expectations, and highly subjective.

Two Paths

There are often two paths. The first path is addressing questions and problems from the script.

When in doubt, you supply the same answer in a different way hoping to satisfy the customer need.

This is commonplace for chat help. The highly trained but not highly skilled agent follows the flow chart and waits for your next input.

The better, but much more difficult path is providing timely and valuable information to the customer before the question arises.

Thanks for visiting us again. The elevator is just around the corner to the right, restrooms are on the left. 

After you turn it on, you’ll hear a beep. The beep is normal and means it is working correctly.

You’ll see a new feature on your screen. It is an upgrade we’ve been working on for a the past year. 

No, it isn’t rocket science or magic. Done properly, providing answers before the question can significantly improve the subjective nature of any transaction.

Customer Service Answers

Here are a few tips to consider for providing answers before the question arises:

  1. Analyze frequently asked questions. What are customers wondering or curious about? Think, what will they need next. Not just now, but next.
  2. New features or design. Change is often a surprise. Surprises can make customers start to lack trust. Identify for them what to expect and when.
  3. Link and leverage. Listen carefully to how they are using the product or service. Connect them with offerings that compliment or leverage their needs.

When you provide customer service answers before the question is asked your service will be valued and respected.

Answering questions is valuable. Providing answers before the question, amazing.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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good advice

Good Advice or Action Learning

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Advice is available everywhere. There are trouble spots though. Bad advice, advice no one pursues, and advice that is entirely unwanted. Do you have any good advice?

Good Intentions

Most advice has the best intentions. People trying to help other people. A good thing. However, being right, attempting to correct behaviors, or point out where the action went wrong doesn’t always result in positive future performance.

Trying to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels is a learning experience. Shouting from the sidelines about balance, pedaling, or how to steer doesn’t help much. Action by the person learning will make the difference.

The same is often true in workplace roles, attitudes, and how to navigate the C Suite. Offering the right answers, suggestions for a proven path, or how to have a different perspective aren’t guaranteed to spark new behaviors.

Good Advice

A difference for the learner is that discovery often changes the course of action more than advice. Could it be that the best advice is not so much about good advice but more about facilitating discovery?

Action learning, creating the ah-ha moments, and effective use of Socratic questions are likely more responsible for change when compared with the voice of good advice.

Action Learning

Perhaps instead of handing out advice we should grab the sissy bar and push little, stabilize a little, and offer encouragement while the action is taking place.

Advice is easy to find. The best learning often takes place when there is discovery and action.

Next time you set out to give some good advice, consider how you can facilitate discovery of the solution instead of just handing it over. Not because you don’t want to help, but because you do.

Hearing the answer is not as powerful as experiencing the answer.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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ask more questions

Leadership Habit 44: Ask More Questions

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Communication is critical. Nearly everyone expresses the importance of communication but have you thought about your communication habits? Should you ask more questions?

It’s not uncommon, people communicate to be heard. Sometimes asking questions can be more valuable than telling. When you truly understand the value in communication you might discover that it is more important to listen.

Asking questions creates an environment for listening. Will more questions improve communication?

Ask More Questions

More questions help to improve communication in many ways. Here are a dozen of many:

  1. Drive purpose. Besides income, people connect with their job based on purpose.
  2. Clarify assumptions. Confusion often exists between design and the final outcome.
  3. Allow for new directions. Shift thinking or pivot to new areas of focus.
  4. Prompt more questions. More questions might be the best way to get things right, the first time.
  5. Set vision. What will it look like? Everyone will get a better picture when their questions are answered.
  6. Invite creativity. There might be more than one way or one possibility.
  7. Restore hope. Doubts set limits and hold things back. Questioning the possibilities sometimes restores hope.
  8. Create flexibility. Rules and guidelines are very important, so is a reasonable amount of flexibility.
  9. Confirm actions. Getting things right will lead to more future success.
  10. Set examples. Wondering what happens next. Ask and you’ll know.
  11. Change attitudes. Understand what makes the effort worthwhile.
  12. Drive better habits. What you question might be your focus. Focus on better habits.

Have you ever considered how questions can become the game changer? Instead of demands, rules, and policies, questions might the best way to send your message.

Communication is Critical

If you believe communication is critical then having a habit of asking more questions just might make things easier.

You really have nothing to lose, only more to gain.

Are you asking enough questions?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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positive attitude appreciative strategies

Using Questions to Develop a Positive Attitude

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Every job has its challenges. Each day we might have to get started, face adversity, and be resilient. In the face of challenge and struggle can you develop a positive attitude?

Some people might suggest that attitude is what we think about or how we approach any situation. Attitude is about mind-set.

Questions Change Attitudes

Here are a few questions to consider anytime you need to be more positive:

  1. What brings you to work each day?
  2. What is the purpose behind the task?
  3. Who is the customer?
  4. What does the customer truly need?
  5. What would improve this product or service?
  6. What would be a pleasant surprise for the end user?
  7. What will get others on board?
  8. What is hard that you can make easier?
  9. What habit will evoke positive change?
  10. What makes this contribution special?
  11. What makes this work valuable?
  12. Is this work part of the legacy?
  13. What will make this change stick?
  14. How will others connect with this work?
  15. What will be important tomorrow?

Any question that you can’t answer immediately might be tempting to just skip. However, if it is truly difficult to answer it might mean it’s worth spending more time to understand.

Positive Attitude

Developing a positive attitude typically doesn’t come from stating that you are going to be positive. It comes from understanding what makes your effort worthwhile. Sure being respected and appreciated for a job well done will always make carrying the load easier, but is that all?

Do you understand the value of the work that you do?

Do you have a positive attitude?

Sometimes in life it is not about the questions that should be answered, but more about the answers that should be questioned.

It might change your attitude.

– DEG

Mindset, it conditions everything that happens next. It is why I wrote this book:

pivot Dennis Gilbert CSP

Buy now on Amazon

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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training needs assessment

Do You Ask About Training Needs?

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Many times I’ve been asked to either conduct a formal training needs assessment or provide consultation to other workforce professionals who are charged with conducting such an assessment.

Nearly every client engagement includes exploring some level of assessment based on needs. Some are very informal and some are more formal.

What is the correct approach? There certainly might be more than one answer, and in-depth assessment practices can fill an entire book, but here are a few basics.

Do I Just Ask About Needs?

A properly managed needs assessment is not a process of asking several questions about what an organization needs. This is as simplistic as a medical doctor asking if you have a cold, you say either yes or no, and they then prescribe what to do next.

It is not about just asking, “What are your needs?”

needs assessment

Below are a few of my favorites (not to do) that I’ve witnessed being used to conduct a so-called needs assessment. I must stress this is what not to ask:

  • What skills are lacking with your current workforce?
  • What training would help your team become better?
  • Do you need technical skills or soft-skills?

Sure this will collect some answers from the person or team that is being asked, but this is not the best way to determine current or future needs.

I’m amazed at the great number of people who approach a needs assessment in this manner. In fact, some of them are highly paid consultants.

The Right Approach

I’m a firm believer that there should be some balance in the approach for any assessment process. By balance I am referring to cost and value.

A full blown assessment that is going to reach in-depth to consider job tasks and duties, assess skill requirements, and perhaps even explore competency models is going to require considerable resources.

training needs assessment

Make no mistake about it, conducting an assessment of that caliber might be appropriate, but for many organizations especially small businesses this is probably too extensive.

Most organizations need to find a balance between low end and high end arriving at a cost effective solution that provides the greatest value.

Training Needs Assessment

The right path for developing training needs assessment questions must be approached without inappropriately leading or suggesting outcomes. It should be as unbiased as possible and should not make assumptions or predetermine possible outcomes.

Appreciative Strategies Assessment

Here are a few examples that are much better for discovering training needs.

  • You have several star or exemplary employees on your team, what is different about them when compared with your average employee?
  • Please describe one specific circumstance where employee performance resulted in an unfavorable or costly outcome for the organization.
  • What are the most significant barriers preventing your (department, team, et al) organization from achieving or exceeding its goals?

It’s important to recognize that there are many aspects to conducting an appropriate needs assessment.

This includes who to assess such as executives, supervisors, or front-line staff, and what to base the assessment on which may be things like efficiencies or productivity, customer service, sales, and even culture or leadership.

assessment needs training

A proper needs assessment must be representative of the best value and right-sized approach for each situation.

The most effective training needs assessment is not conducted by simply asking, “What are your needs?” Effective assessments help organizations discover both the obvious and the not so obvious.

What approaches have you used?

– DEG

Originally published October 14, 2016. Last edited on October 12, 2018. 

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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What Did You Learn

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Do you ask a lot of questions? People are often afraid of questions. They don’t have confidence in how to respond, they don’t know if they should respond, or perhaps they are afraid of the outcomes when they respond.

Planning work

Of course there are people who never ask questions and yet there are people who start conversations with questions. They may ask questions like:

  • What did you do today?
  • What is for dinner?
  • Where are you at?

Sometimes we ask more direct and personal questions, especially if we are friends. Some common questions may be things like:

  • Did you get the promotion?
  • Do you still work at ________?
  • Is your boss still driving you crazy?

Questions are good. I believe questions get people thinking, they express interest, and they ignite conversations. The question I wish more people would ask is:

What did you learn today?

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, corporate trainer, and keynote speaker that specializes in helping businesses accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. Reach him through his website at http://DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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