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StrategySep 08, 2017

That’s a Great Question

Sarah Bruner

I love asking questions. I think it comes from an infatuation with mystery novels growing up (think Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children, and a whole lot of Sherlock Holmes). But in my opinion not all questions are created equal.

What makes a great question?

Note: I’m a marketing professional, not a super sleuth, but as a new hire at Credera I’ve noticed a pattern in my conversations.

These people ask great questions.

This pattern prompted me to analyze the “art of the question,” how employees at Credera ask questions, and the benefits that follow. I found three ingredients that lead to great questions. Read on to understand how to ask better questions and how great questions improve the culture and work product at organizations.

The three ingredients are:

  1. Engaged Listening

  2. Care for the Other Person

  3. Curiosity to Learn

engaged listening

Listening is not easy. Melissa Daimler, leader of the Global Learning & Organizational Development team at Twitter, wrote an article explaining the concept of “360 degree listening.” This means not only listening without distractions, but paying attention to how the person is talking. A great listener notices when the person gets excited about a certain topic or seems frustrated. The resulting follow-up questions are more insightful because you observed not only the words they were saying, but the connotations as well.

care for the other person

Caring for someone means you value that person and are invested in their well-being. For me, this comes from my faith and the belief that every person is valuable because they were created by God. If you care for others, then it is only natural to want to genuinely ask about them.

And people notice when you care. I was once working on a new and challenging project with the president of a company. In the discovery phase, we began to run into some misunderstandings and frustrations. I soon realized that I was seeking my own goals and not using genuine care for the company or its president. My viewpoint changed and I then focused on helping the company succeed. I asked questions through a new lens. The result was enhanced trust and ultimately a successful project.

Asking genuine and helpful questions builds trust between coworkers and friends. And trust achieves success.

curiosity to learn

There is really no replacement for genuine curiosity. Curiosity and the drive to learn help you to shape questions that deepen conversations. Curious questions get to the heart of the matter quickly.

How does this play out in business? As consultants, we are curious by nature and must ask questions to seek clarity and satisfy our curiosity. To quote a successful client, Senior Director of Digital Guest Experience at 7-Eleven Mike Debnar, “Credera employees are curious.” Debnar goes on to say that because of this curiosity he knows “we [7-Eleven] are in good hands [with Credera].”

great questions at credera

In addition to curiosity, having genuine care for clients promotes trust. Through trust, teams achieve greater strategic goals than just implementing XYZ. Michael Cobb, former Chief Marketing Officer of Gold’s Gym explains, “I’ll never forget the day, when the [Credera] team—who had nothing to do with the failed project but was willing to support us and right the ship—said, ‘We won’t let you fail. We’ve got your back.’” Cobb’s statement showcases the trust built between Credera and Gold’s Gym.

Curious and caring questions hinge on the ability to listen to the client. When all of these ingredients come together it creates a truly beneficial partnership.

And, of course, asking great questions enhances the culture of the organization. Engaged listening promotes communication among teams and deepens friendships. The trust born of genuine care strengthens a collaborative culture and the client’s experience. Curiosity to learn more about a topic creates a learning culture that improves the work product and keeps employees from stagnating.

All that to say – a culture where people listen well, care about others, and are curious is a place that should be full of great questions. This is what I see at Credera, a fun and stimulating workplace that promotes the success of its clients and employees.

How can you ask better questions?

If you are exploring some great questions of your own and need a curious ear – reach out! We’d love to learn more about your challenge and how we can partner to find a solution.