Right now I'm working on a new education program for our sales team that I call The Art of Questioning. In it, we'll be reviewing what makes a great question, how to ask one, and how to listen for and assess information based on the answers — and all of it is tailored to our organization's sales process.
Clearly, asking questions is vitally important in sales. But it’s also critical to workplace training. Here are three questions trainers should ask to get learners talking. From there, you can start to assess where your company’s needs are, and how you should respond to them.
Tell me about your day. When you are feeling very successful, what are you doing? When you feel yourself challenged or feel incapable, what are you doing?
By understanding how an employee spends his day, the educator can identify whether their performance is a result of being well-matched to their job, or whether they may requires further skills training. Also, by asking about an employee’s strengths, you may be able to identify an internal, ready-made subject matter expert. And lastly, asking this kind of question can help identify whether the learner has real interest in improving their performance.
Tell me a little about an education program that you watched or attended that made a difference in your performance. What made it successful for you?
By understanding the successful attributes of another education approach, the educator can learn a lot about a particular employee. For instance, how do they learn best? Are there training methods you aren’t already familiar with? (That goes for content and delivery.) And, you can start to build a rapport and connection with the employee, based on the understanding that you, the trainer, have a real interest in customizing training to fit every employee.
Tell me what you think of our education approach. How does it help you become more effective in your work? What is missing that would help you become more effective in your work?
By understanding what a learner truly thinks about the current approach, the educator can understand what they’re doing well and what’s not working — so you can be sure to play to your successes and strengths. This method, too, helps create that all-important rapport with each learner — see what Dr. John Fleming from the Gallup says about creating loyalty in his book Human Sigma).
In today’s “customized” workplace, customers and employees want things “their way.” The best way to determine what that looks like is to be a master at asking questions and listening. From this information you can determine the best course of action, whether in advancing a sale or in creating and delivering educational content.
Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations — their leaders and managers — in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World. Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. Follow him on Twitter.
Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user Horia Varlan.