Ask, Don’t Tell

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Do you tell your team what to do, or do you ask them questions so they take greater ownership?

The power of asking questions is quite profound. In fact, if I asked you, “Who is the best leader you have ever worked for and what made them great?” What is already happening in your mind is you are thinking about one of the best leaders you have had. The person who asks the questions really causes the other person who is being asked those questions to think about something.

Ask, don't tell. Discover how to effectively ask questions. Share on X

In the same way, when you are dispensing answers to your team and telling them what to do, their brain is not engaging as it would if you ask them a question and get them involved in delivering a solution. Use these tips to ask more questions:

1. Ask your team about solutions to problems.

If you have a problem that you are facing on the shop floor, instead of you just telling your team how to fix it, ask them what they think.

This way, you might solve the problem using their solution, which means they are more committed. Or on the other hand, you might find that they do not really understand, and this is an opportunity to train and coach them.

2. Ask them to explain their thinking to build judgment and wisdom.

When you ask them a question and their solution to the problem will not work, ask them to explain the reasons that they suggested their solution. This will help you understand their thought process and get them to justify their suggestions.

3. Ask your team about their priorities.

Priorities are important. Give your team a sense of control in what the priorities will be by asking them, not telling them. This way, they will have a greater sense of ownership and accountability. When you do this, they will be your partners in running the department and your job as the supervisor will not be as stressful as you thought it should be.

No matter what it takes to help you become the leader that your team needs you to be, we are here to be your trusted partner.

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