Avoid These Intimidating Questions That Can Silence Innovation and Problem Solving
Questions are powerful. They can motivate, and inspire deeper thinking. Great questions empower. On the other hand, intimidating questions frustrate employees and shut down creative thinking and problem-solving.
The most dangerous and intimidating questions are those where the leader already “knows” the answer and is looking to see if the person will “get it right.”
Closed-ended questions can have a similar impact if the leader only wants to hear “yes” or “no.”
Intimidating Questions That Disengage Employees:
These intimidating, aggressive inquiries seem to rear their ugly heads most frequently under times of stress and urgency precisely when more calm and creative thinking would be most beneficial.
- What do I have to do to get you to…?
- Why did you do that?
- Did I ask you to do that?
- Is that really working?
- What is your experience in this area?
- Who gave you the authority to make that decision?
- Is that your final decision?
- Are you sure about that?
- What makes you think that will work?
In Dan Rockwell’s post, Too Many Questions, he shares that when teams are always asking “what to do,” they probably have a micro-managing leader. Someone who is delegating tasks instead of”delegating tasks versus results, vision, and resources.”
If employees are intimidated or fearful, they may ask questions in order to keep from “getting it wrong.”Which of course, limits creativity and innovations, and stifles growth. When someone brings you too many questions, try flipping the script and be the question answerer. Here’s a great methodology that can help: The 9 What’s Coaching Method.
Note, if you’ve found this article, you’ve stumbled across one of my very first blog posts from 2012 😉 Glad you’re here. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time research and writing about psychological safety, innovation, and courage at work.
Or download the first chapter of our new book, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates here.
What questions do you find most intimidating? What questions work best to inspire innovation and growth?