What is the best question you have ever been asked?
A well-worded question ignites the imagination, triggering a deep inquiry that allows people to self-solve their personal and professional challenges. And in terms of relating, questions tell a person that you care about their opinion, or their story.
The opposite of a question is not an answer, it’s an assumption. The nemesis of curiosity, an assumption says, “This is who I want you to be”. A question says, “I want to know more about the amazing person you are.”
Feedback questions are the central pillar of the 15Five product and culture. That’s why every Friday, one team member asks everyone else a question to create camaraderie, break down walls, and allow our remote team to get just a bit closer.
One of our core values is to always be learning and growing. We breathe life into this in many ways including sending relevant industry articles to co-workers on different teams. Some of the answers came as quite a surprise:
My limitations are an illusion.
I can let go of my excuses and find the leverage. Building a new team from scratch is hard, but I found the will to learn and fight to achieve my goal.
I didn’t know that you can come to work at a place where you are genuinely cared about as a person.
We believe in supporting people to achieve their personal and professional goals. I have personally been supported to achieve my dream of becoming a published author. Another team member shared his desire to fulfill a childhood dream of going to every major sporting event in the world.
This question was fun, especially for the team-members who enjoy scifi. By reading through the lines the rest of the team got a taste for what is important for their colleagues. Someone shared that they would like to take a quick peek at how they were doing 50 years from now. “Did I make it? Am I heading in the right direction?” Now we know how highly he values success, and are even more motivated to help him achieve it.
Our VP of Customer Success (aka the Question Master) asked this question and clarified that it was not the time for false humility, it was time to brag. How often do we allow ourselves to be self-aware and courageous enough to say, “I am amazing at this”?
The impact on the team is that it boosts confidence. We can all say to ourselves, “I am the best at fly-fishing or karate. What’s to stop me from one day becoming the best at sales, marketing, or customer support?” Then we realize that we are the only ones who are standing in our own way. Here are some of the responses:
Knowing another’s emotional state. Seeing people’s fears and inner-workings almost immediately.
I’m amazing at solving things easily that my fiancee finds impossible.
I’m good at helping provide a clear line of sight for people to accomplish their overall vision, whether in personal coaching or my customer success role.
I am the best at taking things to extremes. In school I had to write a report and my professor was adamant that everything had to be cited. Not wanting to plagiarize, I built a script to break apart the report word by word and search the internet for those words regardless of context. Then I compiled a “works cited” page for every word. (I think he’s crazy good at being a smart-ass too.)
These questions aren’t always designed to inspire deep self-reflection or an emotional reaction. We were captivated by an executive’s embarrassing experience of getting locked out of her apartment naked. We also had a good laugh when someone asked “What Disney character do you embody?” One of our manly team members responded, “the little mermaid”.
15Five is more than an automated Q&A application , it is a gateway to supporting employee growth and discovering who employees truly are. Sometimes questions make us laugh, stretch our imaginations, or make us cry. They are an indispensable tool for growing a business, maintaining a culture, and keeping people aligned with the mission, vision, and values.
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