The power of changing your challenges into questions
Tell me: “What challenges do you face currently?”
This is not a rhetorical question, think about it and spend 5-10 minutes writing them down. Do this with your colleagues. As a group defines what your top 3 challenges. Only then read on. It will be worth it.
You now have a list of key challenges. Look at them. My money is on that most, if not all, of your challenges, are “out there” and not “in here”. For example, we have challenges to do with the market, with senior management, our reports, our suppliers, our customer’s etcetera.
Funny that – have you noticed that we are never part of the problem? If this is not ringing alarm bells for you then it should. If we see our challenges as external to us then we are admitting two things:
- We lack ownership of the challenge and we are prepared to abrogate our responsibility in taking on the challenge, and secondly,
- We are adopting a fixed mindset in that it is the external factor that needs to be changed, not us. As such, it reduces our opportunity to learn and develop from the situation, and to realize the associated benefits.
So how can we turn this around?
Take your top three challenge statements and change them into questions. This has two powerful and helpful effects:
- Asking questions elicits answers – and within those answers are strategies for actually carrying out the work.
- Questions inspire thoughts about our intrinsic motivations for successfully meeting the challenge. As such, intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic incentives in moving people and driving results or outcomes.
To do this is not as easy as it sounds, and it often takes longer to do than expected as there is a much sharper focus on the issue at hand. It also makes us responsible for the challenge and to identify, develop and implement the solution.
Question-Goals – Identifying Solutions, Not the Problems
|Challenge Statement||Challenge Question|
|Difficulty in retaining key skilled staff||How can we use the skills of our key people so that they are engaged, challenged and contribute to our business goals?|
|We have too much to do, and too little to do it with||What are our customers’ key needs and how does that affect our priorities?|
|Difficult to plan in such an uncertain business environment||What are our core skills and competencies and how can we employ them effectively in a variety of alternative scenarios?|
So, start the year, and continue to review during the year, by looking at your challenges and turning them into questions. Cascade this approach throughout the business and you may be surprised at the impact!
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