Ask more, tell less, ok?

Old school was; I tell you what to do and you do it.

New school is; How should we approach this?

Old school is about sticking to what’s worked in the past.

New school is about helping others solve things and expecting that there may be a better way.

I am a reforming ‘Teller’.  It takes a while to get out of old school habits we’ve formed.  I can be pretty task focused too, so that leads me to telling answers rather than asking questions.  Plus I can fall in to the trap of thinking that my advice is ‘really really great’.  That’s the reforming ‘Always Righty’.  Oh gaud… so much to keep working on.

When we fall into the trap of telling people what to do it has an impact;

  1. We create sheep.  People don’t learn to think for themselves.  They don’t grow.
  2. We create order takers. People keep coming to us for solutions and we become a bottle neck for getting stuff done because people are dependent on us.
  3. We create rebels. High performers will become frustrated and feel undervalued if you always give them you’re really really great advice. And guess what? So will low or average performers.

The joy is leading the horse to water and seeing them drink it.  Not pushing their face in it!

So we need to get our asking on!  But many of the ‘coaching’ or problem solving models out there are complicated and a little dated, so I have created a simple three step process to helping others solve problems and implement the best ideas.  It’s called the POW process.  Perfect name right?!  At a high level, here’s how it rolls:


There’s a saying that’s been around for a long time; The problem is not the problem.  What this means is that what people think is the presenting problem is often something else. And after 15 years of coaching and leading I reckon it’s spot on.  We need to make sure we are solving the right issues. We do that by asking the right questions up front.


Here’s where we brainstorm all possible solutions by asking questions to access all parts of our creative mind.  The top 2-3 ideas are ones you already have,  we need to push beyond these.  Then decide on the best one… together.

Way Forward

If we want our people, colleagues and team to implement with rigour then let’s ask the right questions to make sure we agreed on the way forward.  Asking these also increases the chances of people implementing.  After all, they came up with the plan – they weren’t told it.  This way we are able to hold them to account more easily too.

I’m loving my new problem-solving tool used for strategic planning, problem solving and for awesome catch ups with our people.

If you want to find know more about this POW process and other tips on getting the best out of your people, enroll yourself in my Kick Ass Catch Ups online training program.