10 Questions Your Team Is Afraid to Ask

Your team has questions they’re afraid to ask. They’ve got limited information, but they figure if you wanted to tell them you would. They worry that raising the issue will look like insubordination, or somehow make them look less in your eyes. Maybe you can share, maybe you can’t. But that doesn’t make the questions go away. There is value in anticipating the questions that may be on people’s minds and to start the conversation. I’ve been asking around for input into one simple question “What question would you most like to ask your leadership (but are afraid to).”I’ve also been asking a similar question of the leaderhip consultants and coaches I hang around, “What questions do you think employees are most afraid to ask their leaders?” Here are the top 10. Please add yours.

10 Questions Your Teams Afraid to Ask

  1. Why are we doing it this way?
  2. How’s our company really doing?
  3. Why didn’t you ask us?
  4. Why is _____________ not dealt with?
  5. If I speak up, will it hurt my brand?
  6. Do you think I’m ready for a promotion?
  7. Why is there so much turnover ?
  8. How can we get past this feeling of constant crises?
  9. Is this really as urgent as you’re making it out to be?
  10.  ________________________ (what’s your #10?)

Conversation Starters

If you want your team to ask more of their scary questions, here are a few ways you can start the conversation.

  • If I were you, I might be wondering…
  • The last time something like this happened I had a lot of questions such as __________
  • I just read this blog post about questions your team’s afraid to ask, and it made me wonder, what questions do you have that I might be able to answer 😉

Ignoring the tough questions, doesn’t make them go away. In fact, your team is likely asking the questions, to themselves and to one another. Tackling the tough conversations head on will go a long way in building trust and respect on your team.

10 Ways Fear Slows Us Down

Back in November, Dan Rockwell wrote 4 words that have stuck with me.

“Fearful leaders need certainty.”

Try walking around with that in your heart for a month or two and observe.

Watch leaders you admire.

Observe leaders you don’t.

Consider how you respond to situations.

“Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers.”
~Karl Barth

Fear can inform.

or

Fear can paralyze.

10 Ways Fear Slows Us Down

Fear is natural. It is meant to slow us down, or speed us up.

Fear shows up in…

  1. Slow decision-making
  2. Revisiting decisions that you’ve already made
  3. Asking for permission, when you know what is right
  4. Waiting to hear what everyone else says before you have an opinion
  5. Pilots that go on forever
  6. Over-stakeholdering
  7. Setting easily achievable goals
  8. Holding on to the “way we’ve always done things”
  9. Needing more data
  10. The desire to convene a task force or committee at every turn
  11. ???.

Every item on this list may need to be done from time to time in moderation. And yet,

If these behaviors are showing up in your world, stop and consider. What is really slowing you down?

The need for certainty can stop progress.

The need for certainty will diminish your power.