CAD Management: Learning to ask great questions!
To perform my job as a Drafter, I have to have all the answers. To do well as a CAD manager, I’m learning the power of asking questions!
I’ll bet we all do it. As professional technical experts we like to have all the answers. When asked a question we like to give a thoughtful, well considered and above all complete response.
It’s a difficult habit to recognize in yourself, and a difficult habit to break. After all, it’s a habit that has been successful – so far!
It’s my belief that great CAD management can only happen when you are trusted. The people you work with have to believe in you, and they have to trust you – but what can you do to earn their trust?
Learning to ask questions
Earning trust has to be your number one task as a CAD manager. Without trust you just aren’t going to get anything done.
One way to earn peoples trust is to talk with them! Not lecture, not preach, not evangelise, not talk to them, talk with them.
The trick is to ask enough open ended questions to get them talking and then listen.
I could be accused of asking to many leading questions, questions that imply I will favour a certain response. People are sensitive to this and they will try and give me the answer that they think I want.
This is not usually the insightful and meaningful reply that I was hoping for – it’s little better than an echo!
The other kind of question I am learning to avoid are closed questions, questions with a yes/no answer. This kind of question stifles conversation and leaves everyone standing around nervously trying to think of something to say…
I’m trying to avoid…
Closed questions that usually start with:
I’m trying to use…
Open questions that start with:
I’m trying to avoid…
‘Why?’ questions about the past,
‘Why did you mess that up so badly!’
And instead use ‘How’ questions about the future
‘How can we improve that process next time?’
I’m learning not to wait until I’m in conversation to try and think of open ended questions that will keep the conversation going. I’m thinking now about questions that I can ask that will give me insights into my team and help me to earn their trust.
I find it especially useful to prepare some open ended questions before going into a meeting, or making a phone call.
‘Are you happy with this drawing?
‘Tell me about this drawing’
‘Why are you showing me this terrible drawing!’
Asking open ended questions is great start, now to show people I respect them, and gain their trust, I have to show that I’m listening.
Do – repeat their answers back to them
Don’t – interrupt
Do – ask them to expand on their answer, by following up with ‘why?’, ‘How?’ or ‘What if’?’ questions:
‘What makes you say that?’ or ‘What did you learn from that?’, ‘Can you give me an example?’, ‘Why?’…
Don’t – tell them why their answer is wrong!
What to do when you run out of questions
Smile, nod, make eye contact – but don’t say anything! I’m slowly learning the power of silence. People don’t like empty silences (Including me!). I becoming more confident that they will think of something to say to fill the gap.
By giving them some breathing space to think without having to listen to me, I am pleasantly surprised at what they come up with!
More great questions
- How will you know if you are successful?
- What contributed toward you success with this task?
- What would you do differently next time?
- What are we assuming?
- What do you know? – what do you think you know?
- How else could we do this?
- What could we use to do this differently?
- Is there another way to approach this?
- What have we learned from this?
- What come next?
- What would our competitors say if they could hear us talking?
Now my question for you
How do you feel about this post? Can you give me an example of an open ended question that got you an unexpectedly valuable response?
Tell me about that ;)