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Use Reverse Q&A to Learn What’s Really Going On
Sometimes leaders are the last to know.
Even in the best organizations, information about problems and issues faced by others travels slowly upward. Because team members want to be viewed favorably by those who can reward and punish them, they filter information about problems, giving leaders less truth about the organization than they desire. As a result, some issues and problems only surface once they are too big to remain hidden.
Leaders are commonly at a loss to solve for this dysfunction. No matter how many times they prove that they value open and honest dialogue throughout the organization, they still learn less than they want to and should.
To create more openness, good leaders commonly follow their presentations with question-and-answer segments where team members are encouraged to engage any issue on their mind. When leaders respond authentically and openly, they illustrate the power of candor to build trust throughout the organization.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t completely erase the hesitancy team members feel about identifying issues and problems leaders are blind to.
So, the best leaders go one step further. They engage in Reverse Q&A.
Sessions involving Q&A are normally reserved for top-down communication. Leaders answer questions posed by team members to learn what is really going on. It can also work in the reverse.
In small group settings, leaders can ask team members a set of common questions that elicit the information the leader needs to understand the problems and challenges that plague the organization but have remained out of view.
Engaging in active Q&A in both directions creates a distinctive difference that opens the floodgates of honesty throughout the organization.
Leaders learn what they need to know when they ask small groups of team members what the leader might be blind to, what is getting in the way of team effectiveness, what needs to change to promote the highest performance, what is the best and the worst of the organization, and what problems and issues are undermining productivity or results in any area.
By engaging in Reverse Q&A sessions continually throughout the year, leaders soon crack the code that unlocks candid communication. When conducted concurrently with large group forums where any question can be posed to leaders, Reverse Q&A allows leaders to promote a culture of transparency and trust where everyone feels accountable to open communication. Discussion of problems soon percolates throughout the organization, combating the top-down only communication that is far too common.
Good leaders always push to learn what isn’t being said. Reverse Q&A uncovers the truths leaders most want and need to know. Creating open communication in every direction is the real work of leadership.