10 questions for a manager to ask

Brian Carl issues a “call to arms for scheduled reflection” and lists several ideas to make it happen. He also lists some questions to contemplate.

  • What are my employees’ strengths? And how can I give them more projects that align with these strengths?
  • What is my company’s larger mission?
  • What does success look like in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, etc.?
  • What growth stage is my company/product in and how does that align with the product lifecycle?
  • How has the company culture changed and what are the values the employees are reinforcing to their peers? Does this match what I/we say the culture is?
  • Does my team view change as a negative or positive? Do they resist it or welcome it?
  • Have I been spending my time effectively? Am I prioritizing enough time on the projects that are driving results?
  • What processes or meetings are I doing that are no longer relevant or not working like I wanted them to?
  • How has my audience/prospect changed over time? What do I need to adapt to get ahead of this change?
  • What gaps exist that are preventing me from hitting my goals?

Good questions are great!1 But they’re worthless if you don’t ask—and answer—them. Go read Brian’s article for some good ideas.

Do you have a favorite question?

  1. I collect them. :-) 

Questions to trigger a conversation

Most conversations start with a question. Maybe it’s, “How are you?” or “What did you think of the sportsball game?” or, here in the Northwest, “Another wet one, huh?” If you want to learn more about someone, you might ask, “So, what do you do?”

Depending on whom you ask, you might get a conversation in response, but the odds aren’t good. Likely, you’ll have missed an opportunity to learn something cool about the other person.

Having a great question can help.1 Here are 155 to get you started:

I like the first “hot” question in the Forbes list. Which one’s your favorite?

  1. Please be aware that results are not guaranteed to go the way you expect. I tried out my favorite question on my nephew at Thanksgiving, “So, what do you give a damn about?” His response: “The weather.” Haha! Time to follow up. “Why do you care so much about the weather?” 

How to ask an expert the right questions

Sooner or later, most of us will need the advice of an expert.[^1] When we do, we won’t always know what questions to ask. That’s because knowing the right questions is part of what makes an expert an expert. Fortunately, there is a simple question you can ask:

“What questions should I be asking you?”

This question fundamentally changes the relationship. The expert, instead of merely answering your questions, is now responsible for ensuring you get answers to the right questions.

When you ask this question, you’ll see a visible change in the expert. The expert will stop, think, and then answer a question you didn’t know to ask. Moreover, this question will be one the expert, in her expert opinion, thinks you should have asked.

That’s magic!


Questions: Worth their weight in gold

Questions: Worth their weight in gold. This list of questions from Mark Miller is great. I printed it and pinned it to my cube wall.

Here’s just one:

If we hired outside consultants to help us, what do we think they would do?


Honest Questions

Honest questions are all inquiry and no advocacy.

Greg McKeown

In my experience, it’s hard to ask honest questions. The Socratic method has been ingrained into me and leading people to the desired conclusion using questions feels normal. But to those facing the questions, I understand this can feel controlling.

Posting this quote is my attempt to recognize there’s another way to ask questions: not to teach people, but to learn from them.

Jamison Asks, I Punt

Jamison’s question for me today (one of many…):

What’s your favorite arthropod?

Um, Herbert?