5 Powerful Questions for Leaders to Help Employees Break Through Overwhelm

"I've tried my best. I don't know what else I can do."

"It might work for them, but it won’t work for us."

"We’ve tried all that, it didn’t work."

"I just can’t relate to those people."

"They’re making it difficult."

Blindspots, victimhood, and change resistance; these are challenges that leaders face in every organization.
Tell less and ask more; that’s the advice I want to share with leaders looking to help their team grow from those scenarios.

“Leading discussions about strategy, workplace behavior and business modeling with questions rather than prescriptive statements increases buy-in, morale and productivity.”

This begs the question: how can you coach your team to shift their perspective? How could the simple act of asking questions solve this?

Asking employees questions when seeking productive conversations is a co-creation of knowledge. It builds the critical analysis and problem solving skills that are vital to the growth and success of a business. Learning and adapting is crucial in many industries, especially given the fast pace at which our shared processes of information are evolving.

Asking a question when problem solving is not relinquishing power, it can be a springboard highlighting discussion points that you, as a leader, feel is important to address. The person or people you are problem solving with will feel heard, which will allow them to feel more involved in the decision-making process. It encourages both initiative and engagement.

Here are 5 Powerful Questions Leaders can ask to help employees get unstuck:

1. What would you like to see different?

When an employee gets caught up in what went wrong, what’s not working, and the problems for too long, they fall into a victim mindset. Ask this question to help the person snap out of the downward spiral and to focus on the meaningful desired outcome.

2. What would you do differently next time?

Ok, something didn’t go as planned but a post mortem examination is only useful to a certain extent. Once we’ve extracted what we can learn from the incident, ask this question to raise awareness and apply what we learnt in the future.

3. What did you accomplish despite the situation?

What did they do correctly despite the challenges or hurdles? While we may have missed the goal, it's very likely that the employee still made tangible progress. Ask this question to highlight the progress and build their confidence in their own capabilities.

4. How did you manage to accomplish what you did despite the situation?

As a follow-on to the question above, this question is to help the employee uncover their strengths and resources. Ask how they overcame the hurdle and how they can take empowering actions by applying more of what worked next time to build forward momentum.

5. Who else might be able to offer a different perspective and support us?

We don’t have to do it all alone. Ask this question to tap into the diverse perspective and deep knowledge base that exists in the organizations. Who might have experienced similar situations? Who else might be able help expand our perspectives?

Tell less, ask more. Be a leader coach and support your team to learn from their own insights.

About Jacinta Quah

An Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker and Well-being Advocate, Jacinta helps leaders move successfully from fatigue and burnout, to peak productivity and energy, maximizing their performance and potential.  

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