From “HBR”…

Tactics for Asking Good Follow-Up Questions

When you want to get a read on someone, what questions do you ask? Most people have go-to questions. The ones I hear most often are open-ended questions like, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” “What do you want to be doing in five years?” and “What motivates you?” Some savvier questioners ask behavior-based questions, like “Tell me about a time when you….”. Sounds great, right? Now, ask yourself if you have ever once actually learned the truth about someone by their responses to these questions. How many times have you relied on people’s responses to these questions only to see later that those responses meant nothing at all? Most people ask a question like this and then move onto another topic, seemingly satisfied that they heard what they needed to hear. In reality, they learned nothing about the other person.

But the key to understanding people lies in the follow-up question.

This is exceptionally important for new junior executives, but also a lot of hard work.

From “The Junior Executive“…

As a new executive, we will very likely be beset upon by untruths and half-truths. This is not a cynical view; rather, it is a practical one. Many individuals and organizations rightly view change as an opportunity to further their cause. As a new executive, we will represent such an opportunity to both external parties and internal colleagues and groups.

How do we maintain a healthy skepticism that allows us to avoid being manipulated by others who may seek to further their cause? The successful executive will develop an evaluative style for lines of inquiry that leverages deductive reasoning (e.g., detective work). Organizational work is not a crime scene, but there is a great deal of value in employing a proven method of developing a likely narrative for incoming, untrustworthy information.

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