Facilitate your Way to Great – Part 2
In yesterday´s post, I shared my fond feelings for the art of managerial facilitation and described what I thought good facilitation looked like. Today, I will address how to become a better leader/facilitator.
Question: What helps conversations move forward?
1. Ask great questions.
2. Ask great questions.
3. Ask great questions.
This one thing, asking great questions, could significantly improve most corporate dialogue.
Great questions are open-ended and help broaden the perspective of the person or group. Ask:
What are your assumptions?
What´s the opposite point of view?
What´s the data saying?
What might happen if?
What are some of your other ideas?
How will this impact other groups/processes?
How can we accomplish this? How else can we accomplish this?
What would you do?
What´s your gut saying? Why?
What are our competitors doing?
What are the best companies doing?
where´s the market heading?
What do our customers want?
How will this benefit us?
Where´s technology taking us?
What do we know and what do we need to learn?
Why do you seem hesitant, is there something we are missing?
What´s the next step and who should own it?
And so on…..
Question: What enables better connections?
Answer: Someone noticing a need for a connection and taking the initiative to improve the situation. Managers and leaders should be like Elmer´s glue. You attend many meetings, you talk to your peers and team members, and you likely know what´s working and what´s not working. Often we don´t take ownership of fixing broken connections.
Should two people or two teams get together and map out a better process? Book the meeting and help run it.
Are there gaps in a communication process? Get a conversation going about how to fill this gap.
Is knowledge and information being lost between layers of management? Call attention to the problem and ask a group of peers how it should be solved.
Are some processes just too long or cumbersome? Make this a topic of discussion at the next staff meeting or chat with your manager.
Question: How do managers translate to improve understanding?
Answer: Listen both for what´s being said and what the person really means or seems to feel. People are funny and often fickle creatures. We rarely say exactly what we mean, and we often tip toe passed topics. Great managers can find a diplomatic way of noticing and calling attention to someone´s (or the group´s) real intent and opinion.
For example: You are sitting in a staff meeting. The head honcho asks if everyone agrees with his idea. Nobody says anything, but most people give a weak nod. This is not a sign of enthusiastic agreement! You could say: "If this is the way we are going to go, I want to make sure it´s successful. I have a couple concerns (share your concerns) and I get the sense that some of you might have some thoughts that would be helpful to consider. Jack, what do you think?"?? (Yep, put them on the spot, they are not just chair warmers!)