As a leadership speaker, we are sometimes engaged to work with a client to implement useful change in their organisation. A lot of leaders ask me what kind of questions can help their teams shift their focus from being problem-focused to solution-focused?
Here are three ways you can improve conversations that will overcome negativity, indifference and at the same time create optimistic conversations:
1. Talk about your preferred future
When you start creating conversations around what could be different and better for you and the organisation, you start getting exciting ideas of what it should look like.
Even if your team talks about current situations or problems, gentle point them to the future and ask “If things were always what we want them to be, what will it be like?” or “What needs to be different from our existing issues?”
When people start getting clear ideas on what’s better, from our experience, they start thinking about possibilities and ways to make it happen.
2. Ask solutions-focused questions that focus on actions that move forward
Do you know that when you ask solution-focused questions, you always tend to get better answers? Likewise, better questions can lead you to better results.
For example, rather than ask "Can it be done?", I realised that I get better answers when I ask "How can it be done?"
This is because when you say NO to the first question, your brain doesn't think further. But when you ask HOW, you presuppose that you can do it and focus on what needs to be done to make it happen.
Here are some other questions that help people move forward faster:
- “When things are better, who would notice and what will they notice?”
- “What needs to happen for us to be better at xxx?”
- “If these problems do not happen and we got so much better in handling it, what will be different?”
- “When was a time where we did something similar and succeeded?” What is something we can learn from it?”
3. Focus on what works.
People get more motivated if they know what is working, rather than not. However, most organisations focus on what is NOT working. They hold discussions around failures, problems and gaps. If you keep doing it, you will have an unmotivated workforce.
If we help clients focus on what works, what they have done well or even how to systemise the success so that others can follow their footpaths, it is highly motivational.
When someone in the team does something right, we need to find out what he/she did exactly so that we can duplicate it intentionally the next time. This helps everyone in the team to win more consistently.