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3 types of questions to engage your team

To engage your team, to get them talking and involved in a discussion, expressing themselves openly and honestly: this is not a simple skill.

There’s a lot that needs to happen to get this right: asking the right questions, listening effectively, not interrupting, making sure everyone’s involved, exploring topics with the right level of detail, reaching conclusions, agreeing next steps.

These are all great facilitation skills for managers.

And it all starts with asking the right questions. Here are 3 types of questions that will help:

1. Questions that tap into your teams’ experience

A good way to start any new discussion is by exploring what your team already know. Give your team the opportunity to share and they’ll be more engaged and motivated.

For example, if you are prepping your team for a major presentation, you might ask the following questions:

  • From your previous experience, what are the key points we need to consider?
  • What has worked well for you previously? What has not worked so well?
  • What are you going to enjoy about this presentation? What will you find challenging?

You are using your facilitation skills as a manager to explore their previous experience, what they know, their expertise, and their mindset.

This gives you a great foundation for building on their experience, and a wealth of comments that you can refer to during the rest of the discussion.

2. Questions that explore greater depth, encourage reflection

The first answers don’t always get to the level of detail needed to be insightful. Encourage reflection and learning with follow-up questions. For example:

  • That’s interesting, why do you say that?
  • Could you explain in more detail?
  • Can you give me an example of that?
  • Can you expand on that a little?

3. Questions that involve other team members

Finally, most teams have a ‘vocal minority’, the team members that like to talk! As a manager it’s important that you use your facilitation skills to ensure that everyone within the team is involved.

These questions will help you:

  • What do other people think?
  • Can anyone add to that?
  • Does anyone else have an example of that?
  • Does anyone have a different perspective?

In summary

Facilitating any conversation or meeting is not a simple skill. It requires a combination of many skills and the ability to ask the right questions is key.

Use these 3 types of questions to help engage and involve your team:

  1. Ask questions that tap into the teams’ experience
  2. Ask questions that explore greater depth, encourage reflection
  3. Ask questions that involve other team members

Use these 3 types of questions consistently and you’ll soon see improvement in the quality of your team discussions.

Finally, do you have trouble answering questions? Take a look at these simple and powerful techniques for confident Q&As.

Colin Bates

Colin Bates

I'm at my best when helping people to learn, grow and succeed. This might be facilitating a training program, coaching a colleague, or sharing advice with my kids. I'm also an introvert by nature, and love to read, reflect and write. Hence this blog!