Question Hacks to Mobilise & Optimise Your People

Written by Jason T. Smith

October 1, 2020

The 5 most important questions you’ll ever ask to improve productivity and efficiency in your people – and help them have their best month at work yet! 

Connecting with your people is a crucial goal of leadership. Asking them important questions to discover their true feelings towards work, make them feel valued, and assure them their opinions matter will go a long way to achieving this. 

In this article, I share the 5 most important questions I  ask my people to improve their sense of belonging, increase their productivity and optimise their efficiency in teams – ensuring they have their best month at work yet!

I have devoted my life to healthcare. It is a services industry where people are everything – the lifeblood of the business. And we can never forget we exist to serve others. 

 Research suggests that one of the best predictors of patient satisfaction is when your people feel they are in the right job. Happy practitioners and support staff make for happy clients. Why? Because the people we work with are the ones who live out our mission, carry our values, and represent you in the brand of your practice. 

There are no silver bullets in building championship teams. But principles must be followed. For me, a worthwhile “hack” is a time-effective technique in achieving your purpose, without violating the core principles. One such hack I continue to practice is the art of “questioneering”. That is, posing the right question for the right person at the right time to hopefully create forward momentum and optimal impact.

What attributes do you aspire for in your teams? Do you want them to be more productive, better at attracting more personal referrals, more customer-focused, demonstrate a stronger work ethic, or maybe express more fun and creativity? What does your dream team look like? Keep these in mind as I present the Question Hacks to optimise your people. 

Here are 5 of my favourite question to get the best out of my people – and to help them thrive in their teams. They make my leadership look better than it really is by  radically enhancing followership. As a result, my people work better, get more things done, enjoy their experience, and learn greater insights – and it all seems like magic! 

The questions are deceptively simple. Develop the habit to ask them regularly and integrate what you learn into the leadership of your team.  

1. What do you LOVE doing?

I ask people what they love doing during recruitment interviews, performance reviews, and most importantly when sponsoring people internally for important projects or solving complex problems, including the management of difficult patients. This is a very important discovery for me, otherwise, I can easily assume that my people like the same things as me, and I can invite them to join what I consider to be “exciting projects” with lots of opportunities, but they may be disinterested.

 The most significant insight I need from my people is what they love doing. They are going to excel at these tasks and require  much less management, oversight, and motivation when they are doing something they love. 

Back In Motion

2. What are you REALLY good at?

When working with someone, it’s really important for me to know their technical skills, habits, competencies and strengths. When people get to do the things they’re good at, they feel more empowered, confident, and satisfied in their work. 

3. What 2 things MUST you get done this week?

This question will help people reflect on and commit to their goals for the week ahead and establish definitions for “success” and “failure”. With goals set, most people can work out the “how” and “when” of things needed doing, as the “what” and “why” have been identified. 

4. What 2 things can I do for you this week? 

I proactively offer help to my people in this question, being cautious not to presume what the answer will be. This question helps to explore challenges, doubts, learning gaps, tools required, networking opportunities and any other shortcomings that might limit the person’s ability to achieve their goals.  I always try and ensure what help I commit to is relevant and aligns to the things they have agreed they must get done this week.

5. What 2 things can YOU do to help yourself this week?

As leaders, we should facilitate, guide, and encourage our people to achieve their goals. However, it is their responsibility to take action and get the actual work done. By asking this question, I like to reinforce and agree with them which of their actions are going to make the biggest impact.

By asking these 5 questions, we have set our people up for a very successful week – expecting a good portion of their work is doing things they love, using skills they are good at, agreeing on the key priorities, help them with initiatives as required, and getting them to agree to the actions they must complete for their own success. 

In addition to these questions, I often ask one more question. Consider this a BONUS question. It’s actually my favourite.  

6. Does it help you if I follow you up?

This question borders on “entrapment”. 🙂 If they say, no thanks – all the accountability rests with them. If they say, yes please – I have an open invitation to keep them honest. Irrespective of the answer, the question reminds our people they need to take ownership and be accountable for their work. The more someone permits me to hold them accountable, the greater performance we tend to see. Be wary though, that your leadership doesn’t become proxy micromanagement. 

Of course, these aren’t the only questions you will want to ask your teams. I have surveyed physios all over Australia and New Zealand through Facebook groups and some of their favorite questions to ask also include:

  • What has been your biggest win this week? 
  • Have you been comfortable with everything at work? 
  • How do you think we can all do this better? 
  • What do you think we should STOP doing?
  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail? 
  • If you stepped out of your own way, how could things look? 

As I think of these questions, it reminds me that a high performing practice team is a D.I.Y. project. (Do-It-Yourself). You are not gifted great people, you make them. Teams are what we make them…and we get what we deserve. 

I really encourage you to keep developing your skills of “questioneering”. Mobilise and optimise your people by asking intelligent questions. Stay curious – and seek to make an impact with every interaction!

[If you missed our session, Practice #impact: Question “Hacks” to Optimise and Mobilise your people and want to catch the recording you can link to it here: ]

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