25 Powerful Questions For Your Next One-on-One Meeting

There’s no end to the questions we can ask at work to improve our awareness of the business, get in touch with team and employee satisfaction, and show the people we work with how much we care about them and their contributions. The key to asking powerful questions is to frame them in a way that encourages people to answer openly, honestly, and in detail.  Here’s an example of a powerful question: 1. “How do you feel about ____?” Compare that question to the following close-ended question: 2. “Do you like _____?” The first question encourages dialogue. The response will likely lead to information, which will open the door for more questions, which in turn will provide even more information. The second question can be simply answered with a “yes” or “no”. While you will receive a response to the second question, it will be limited in detail, understanding, and value. Here are 25 powerful questions to ask during your next one-on-one meeting with people on your team.

  1. How are you? (YES!  I mean, how often do we really ask the people we work with how they’re doing?)
  2. What would you like to focus on for this meeting that would be of greatest benefit to you?
  3. What has been on your mind lately?
  4. What are you most concerned about?
  5. What is going well?
  6. What would you like to focus on more often at work?
  7. How satisfied are you with the work you’re doing?
  8. What is an ideal situation for you?
  9. What resources would be most helpful to you?
  10. What would you like to see more of?
  11. What would you like to see less of?
  12. Which of your strengths would you like to use more often at work?
  13. What would you like to accomplish next year?
  14. What’s most important to you right now?
  15. What will be most important to you next year?
  16. What motivates you?
  17. What inspires you?
  18. What are you happiest about right now?
  19. If you could do anything, what would it be?
  20. If you didn’t have to manage _______, how would things be different?
  21. You’re doing a great job  ______.  How has _____ been going for you?
  22. What has your experience with _______ been like?
  23. What have you observed about _______ lately?
  24. What is standing in your way?
  25. How can I support you?

– Jackie Simon

The 2 (+1) Most Important Work Relationships to Build (and it isn’t with your boss)

You may believe that your boss holds the key to your career growth, but he or she isn’t the only one you should be investing your time with. Here are the key types of relationships you’ll want to cultivate at work:

Mentor: a mentor is someone who has been in your shoes and is available and willing to provide you advice as you grow in positions of increasing responsibility. This is someone who wants to give back and sees you as a high potential talent. They may be someone higher up in your department or division, or someone at a senior level in a completely different discipline than your own. Ideally, your mentor will meet with you at least once a month for an hour to check in, learn about your most recent wins and challenges, and provide advice on how to navigate current events. The alternative perspective they can provide is deeply valuable.

Bonus points if you form a relationship with a mentor internal to your company and one external. The external mentor can also serve as a valuable networking agent when it comes time for you to make a career move.

To kick off a relationship with a mentor, send an email to the individual you’d love to learn more from and inquire if they might have the capacity to serve as your mentor. Chances are they’ll be deeply flattered.

Stakeholder: a stakeholder is someone who is more senior to you within the company who is also your advocate. Behind closed doors, in key organizational meetings, a stakeholder is someone who will actively advocate for you to be promoted into positions of increased responsibility. They are someone who is familiar with your personal brand and want to see you take on more responsibility because they know you’re more than capable. An ideal stakeholder is a leader in a department you work closely with who is familiar with and admires your contributions and work ethic.

To develop a relationship with a stakeholder, think about key senior people within the company you admire. Cultivate relationships with this leader by being the best version of yourself possible. Show up each day and be productive at work, in meetings, and in your contributions.

How is this different from a mentor? A relationship with a stakeholder is more organic and natural. You won’t begin an email to them with, “I’d like you to be my stakeholder,” as you might indicate in a note to a prospective mentor. A stakeholder relationship happens more fluidly. It happens through an email you might send to them about an insightful article you thought they’d find interesting, thanking them for the input they provided in a meeting, or complimenting them on their team’s contributions and the great impact it had on you. This relationship happens over time and as a result of many positive data points about you and your contributions.

Separate from these two key relationships, and one not to be overlooked, is a relationship with your company’s CEO. The CEO is a brilliant person to be able to observe and form a relationship with. Make sure your CEO knows more than just your first name.

In many companies, access to the CEO isn’t possible. Perhaps she works in another city or the company is really just too large for you to feasibly get in front him/her. If it’s not the CEO, then why not your boss’ boss’ boss’ boss? Your mission is to identify the most senior individual within the company you have access to who you can also build a mutually beneficial relationship with. This person could be your mentor, but if nothing more, this individual will be a valuable person for you to observe during meetings, make note of how they deal with challenging issues, how they carry themselves each day and how they build relationships.

In the title you’ll note that I suggest your most important relationship isn’t with your boss. Why is that? Certainly, it’s an important relationship and one you should focus on ensuring is the most positive and productive it can be. That said, for true and significant career progression, it’s important for you to cultivate relationships at a level outside of your boss so you can promote your personal brand external to your current position and department, and develop advocacy.

So, where do you start? Your focus for the rest of the week is to get out from behind your desk and start engaging with interesting, available, and outstanding leaders you can learn from. Bring some unique ideas forward … and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You’re a rising star, and it’s time to get the visibility you deserve.

– Jackie Simon

Should Happens

Shoulding all over yourself. Sounds terrible. Do it too often and your life can really become a mess. “I should ask for a raise,” “I should have prepared better for my speech,” “I know I should go back to school,” “I’ve been told I should start a business.”

How often do you find yourself using the word “should” to describe your “almost behaviors?” How realistic are your expectations?  People hide behind “should” when they don’t feel empowered. What are the true roadblocks you feel are in the way of changing your “should” to “did”?

–  Jackie Simon

Sell it like it is

You may be giving a lot of thought lately to the next step you’d like to take in your career. One that will result in greater responsibility, upward mobility, and increased salary and bonus opportunity.

Have you considered sales?

It’s a question I love to ask people in the process of developing a vision and plan for their careers. Some embrace the idea of sales while others immediately shoot it down. Why is that? I often find it’s because individuals have a preconceived notion of what sales involves and have dismissed it very early on.

Maybe you have dismissed sales as a next step because you believe it’s:

  • Many more instances of “no” than “yes”
  • An unending loop of PowerPoint decks and presentations
  • Travel intensive
  • Tied to weekly/monthly/quarterly sales goals you own and are accountable for hitting

Could there be some merit to these points? Absolutely. Depending on the role, sales can certainly involve all of the above.

But, there so many other facets to sales-like roles within organizations that actually can take a “none of the above” spin to them.

The key reason to consider a stint is sales is to prepare and position you for great opportunities down the road.

Sales teaches professionals to present ideas, position possibilities, motivate thinking, and negotiate outcomes. It teaches individuals to enlist others and get them onboard and turn a no into a yes.

Sales teaches professionals the valuable skill of influence. And, mastering the skill of influence is extremely important to your growth and career development no matter the role you’re in.

Let’s say you want to pitch your senior vice president on a great new product or service idea. Or, you want a promotion to the next level and have great ideas on a position the company could create that you’d be great for. Or, you want to get in front of the CEO of your company because you’d love her to be your mentor. To achieve these things and get attention, you need to influence others within your organization. You need to sell them on the possibilities and benefits.

If working directly with clients and pitching products and services doesn’t sound like a great direction to you, there are still other options. Perhaps you’d enjoy product or technical sales support, product marketing or management, or account/customer service support. Roles like these often involve learning how to position products and services and work with clients to positively influence their experience with the company.

Let’s say you see yourself owning your own business down the road. Mastering sales skills sooner than later will be a tremendously valuable and important skill for you to make your business a success.

If a role change isn’t a possibility for you at this time, here are a few other ideas on ways to learn and build your sales and influence skills:

  • Ask friends or family members who work in sales to teach you some techniques
  • Shadow sales team members within your company
  • Invest in a sales training course or two
  • Read a few books that focus on sales development
  • Follow blog posts and Twitter feeds from sales leaders

Whether it’s taking on a selling or sales support role or expanding your professional development to include sales training, you’re sure to acquire valuable techniques for presenting yourself and your ideas to influence buy-in.

Ultimately, building this skill set will put you on a great path for positions of greater responsibility and compensation.

Next week: Should Happens.

– Jackie Simon

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get Ahead

Thank you note

  1. Always write thank you notes. Handwritten is best. Leadership is about demonstrating gratitude, kindness, and thoughtfulness to those around you. Whether one of your team members has gone over and above on a project or you received a raise or a special introduction to a key contact, show your appreciation for the extra steps someone else took for you by graciously thanking them.
  1. Get that difficult [email, phone call, conversation, meeting, decision, discussion] out of the way first thing in the morning. Why let it hang over your head all day (or week or month)?
  1. Act now; apologize later. There will be times that you’re called to make a big decision or take action without having key information available or the opportunity to work through known channels or procedures. Do the best you can with what you know and take action. Even if things don’t go exactly as planned, you’ll very likely navigate the unexpected successfully and learn a lot along the way.

That’s it, you ask? That’s it.

Next week, we’ll talk about the most important skill set you should develop for significant career (and compensation) advancement.

– Jackie Simon

Michigan-Based Training: Coaching Fundamentals for Leaders

Coaching Fundamentals for Leaders

Program Overview

This specialized leadership development program is designed to help your senior management team and new managers to learn the overlooked competency of coaching. Effective coaching by leaders and managers enables team members to master new skills, communicate more effectively, and create value for their organization. Additionally, by effectively coaching his/her team, the leader and manager frees up valuable time to focus on strategy, business development, and innovation.

Who Will Benefit 

The course is targeted to directors, managers, and supervisors. Of particular benefit:

  • Directors who have excelled as independent contributors but feel the need to get out of the details and lead effectively
  • Managers who have primarily focused on managing process or production
  • Managers who tend to carry the load for their team
  • High potential managers who have excelled as specialists

Benefits for the Leader

  • Take leadership effectiveness to the next level
  • Optimize strengths and natural leadership style
  • Acknowledge limitations and overcome issues limiting one’s effectiveness
  • Communicate more effectively
  • Enjoy an improved quality of work life

Benefits for the Organization

  • Enhanced organizational performance
  • Retention of high-potential talent
  • Improved relationships and productivity
  • Development of key team members
  • A path for continued growth and success

Dates: April 23, 2015May 28, 2015
Location: Troy, MI

For more information, please feel free to contact me at 248.971.0875 or jackie@cultivatedcoaching.com.

 

Is leading others right for you?

The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make

(Ask your doctor) if leading others is right for you …

In your current position, you may have debated the merits of remaining an individual contributor versus taking on the role of people leadership. There are strong arguments either way, and I often find people are polarized on the issue. Through my conversations with professionals, here are a few “side effects” they have identified in why they’d prefer to not lead teams. They:

  • feel it may be a hassle
  • would no longer just be responsible for numero uno
  • believe they’ll lose work-life balance
  • would miss the opportunity to be an innovator in their role
  • couldn’t imagine not doing the fun work — creating, designing, dreaming, and developing

This sounds like a pretty solid list of reasons to me. For those who have the people leadership bug, here’s a short list of “symptoms” associated with overseeing a team:

  • Leading people means leadership
  • More money
  • More influence
  • Title
  • Greater responsibility
  • Clearer career path
  • Upward mobility

Another great list of reasons. So, when it comes to leading a team versus remaining an individual contributor, what’s the best prescription for career growth? In short, there’s really no right or wrong answer. There are, however, three key things I’d like you to consider:

  1. You don’t have to manage people to be a leader.
  2. You also don’t have to manage people for the greatest gains in compensation, influence, title, and career progression. It’s about creating or finding the right role.
  3. Your decision is only problematic if you’re denying yourself what you really want or you haven’t taken the time to truly explore and understand which direction will best fit you.

If you’ve viewed people leadership as a possibility but have shied away from it up until now, there are many ways you can ease into it (mentoring, pairing, leading meetings, leading teams without the direct reporting responsibility) to build your confidence before you take the plunge. There’s something to be said for having it happen organically.

And, if you’re curious about achieving greatness as an individual contributor, network internally and externally to learn how you can truly maximize your path.

Get really clear on how you envision your career evolving, then go for it!

Next up: 3 Surefire Strategies to Get Ahead

– Jackie Simon