The Four Types of Questions

Chris SmithsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

I bet you are asked questions all the time

I bet you are asked questions all the time, from everyone, about many different topics. The sheer volume of questions is keeping you “busy” (which, by the way, is the worst four letter word on the planet). When you hear these questions coming your way it’s tempting to simply answer them or, even worse, do the actual work yourself. On the other hand, if you take a moment to understand WHY someone is asking the question you can begin to address the root cause of the issues and take action to prevent them in the future.

Fortunately, there are four reasons why people ask questions. If we take a moment to acknowledge this reality when we are being asked the question we can make easy adjustments and prevent them in the future.

The Four Question Types:

  1. “I don’t know the answer.”
  2. “I don’t know how to choose how to pick between two options.”
  3. “I’m asking as a way of telling you.”
  4. “I don’t feel empowered to make the decision.”

The Four Solution Types:

  1. Provide better training/education to the employee.
  2. Provide accurate Core Values that allow the employee to make the best decision.
  3. Use Slack to allow the team a shared location for FYI
  4. Directly tell an employee: “Congratulations, you are empowered to make that decision!”*

*And then use an Accountability Chart to define that empowerment for each seat/position

Sounds simple, right? It is.

Begin by Tracking:

Do not simply answer the question. Open your spreadsheet for questions and record the following info:

DatePersonTypeQuestion (Brief Reminder)
1/14/24JaneCore Values

Each week you will record the questions that come your way.

Analyze the Data & Take Action:

  1. If you see an employee name repeated on the sheet you likely have a person problem.
    1. Work with the individual to coach them up or out of your organization.
    2. I suggest weekly (GASP!) so the issue is addressed frequently and course-correction is swift.
  2. If you see one (or more) type of question appear you have a company problem. Provide better:
    1. Training (Industry, software, manufacturer, shadowing)
    2. Defined Core Values (on the website and silk screened on your walls)
    3. Communication Tools (Slack)
    4. Empowerment (Accountability Chart, a culture of delegation, fail small & fail forward)
  3. Teach this method to each of your leaders/managers.
    1. They should be teaching it to their teams as well
  4. Meet with your team members regularly to review the list and make corrections.
    1. When things are bad: More frequently and for longer.
    2. When things are good: Less frequently and for shorter.
  5. The list should be shorter each week.
    1. If it isn’t we need to course-correct our approach!

Ironically, any questions?

About the Author

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is the Principal and Founder of TheCoTeam. Bringing 20 years of industry experience to the custom installation space, they Coach | Consult | Collaborate with integrators and manufacturers to solve problems and run a more efficient business.