One of the most important tools a HR pro can have is the ability to ask good questions. You won’t find it in many of the “earn yourself a seat at the table” articles, but trust me it’s true. Good questions are your best friend.
To start with, good questions help you out when you don’t know what else to say. They help you enter a conversation and are a brilliant way of interacting above your organisational level. Generally, the more senior you get, the more you like the sound of your own voice. Asking questions plays right in to that sweet spot and gets you noticed.
Good questions help you learn. They give you knowledge, insight and understanding that you otherwise would not obtain. They’re your key to learning more about the business and developing your commercial and strategic acumen. Good questions are personal development on speed.
Good questions help you avoid making a fool of yourself. Too many times when things go wrong you have the, “why didn’t you tell me” moment. Which of course has the answer, “you didn’t ask”. Good questions replace volume, they get to the issue quicker than lots of questions and they identify issues before they happen.
Good questions make the other person work. You only have to develop your repertoire of good questions once, but you can deploy them time and time again. The person on the receiving end, however, has to do the thinking. Not only does it make them smarter (and they’ll thank you for that) it also means you can spend the time listening, it’s a win win.
It’s too easy to think that getting yourself noticed, getting influence, getting that organisational recognition is about being heard. And too many HR people spend their time talking and talking to try to fill that space. Next time you’re tempted, ask a question instead (but make it a good one), and see what the response you get is.
Trust me, you’ll never look back.