One of the key takeaways from a recent management workshop we delivered was the use of How? and Why? with our teams.

Of course Simon Sinek would say that the WHY question is the most important question (and I agree with him in the context in which he uses it) however when it comes to management of your team I’d suggest ‘Why?’ is not a great question to ask them when managing performance.

Let’s imagine things are off track or something goes wrong? What behaviours are we triggering in the team member when we ask “why did that happen?” or “why did you do that?” or “why didn’t you do this?” Blame, Excuses or Denial! In this context ‘why?’ is a backward moving question.

Far better to usae a forward moving question like ‘How?’

“Ok, this situation has happened so how are we going to get things back on track?” or “how might we do things differently to get a differently result?“.

This starts to trigger the kind of behaviours we want to see in our team, namely Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility.

So, if you want to trigger the right kind of response from your team be careful as to the words you use in your questions because one word can deliver you a very different set of responses.