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Managers: Shut Your Yap

It's a curse afflicting many managers, especially senior ones. As we gain more experience and knowledge, we want to share that greatness with the people who report to us. Let them bathe in our tales of great wins and inconceivable losses. Develop great ideas for them to run with.

Hey, we're the smartest people in the room, so why not flap the yap so everyone can benefit?

This is a curse because as your mouth remains in the "Open" position, your ears close down. Soon your team becomes disengaged. But here's a great way to get them involved and excited again, courtesy of a recent Harvard Business Review article by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, called Managing Yourself: Bringing Out the Best in Your People.

  1. Pick a meeting or conversation and commit to leading it by asking questions.
  2. Present a query that will spark discussion.
  3. Ask clarifying questions to dig deeper and better understand the ideas.
  4. Use questions to determine next steps.
They key to this program is selecting the right questions in No. 2. They need to engage your group but also produce valuable insights. So forget open-ended queries such as, "How can we get better?"

Here are several that are likely to to spark great conversations and get people thinking on both tactical and strategic levels:

  • "What do our competitors do better than us?"
  • "Our mission says we are world class -- in what ways are we not?"
  • "You have the power to kill up to three products or services we currently offer. What are they?"
  • "You have the power to create something new for us to offer. What is it?"
  • "Create a new position in our company and explain why we need it."
Your role, dear manager, is to guide the conversation and elicit ideas, so keep your opinions to yourself.

If you like this idea, share with us questions you would ask to get your team to open up.

(No talking image by yoshiffles, CC 2.0)