From the author:
Questions as the heart of moderation
Questions rule our lives. For example: “When is your plane going?”, “What would you like to have breakfast for?”, “Which project team did you choose?”. However, moderation requires a much more sophisticated questioning technique than is necessary in everyday life.
Because while we often ask things in everyday life that we do not know - but the other person already has - the question in moderation has a completely different task:
The task of moderation
Moderation is not about interrogating the known, but about making something new possible. This requires a purposeful and intelligent question that inspires people to think differently.
Not for nothing did the French writer, painter and graphic artist Francis Picabia (1879 - 1953) once say:
“Our heads are round so that thinking can change direction!”
6 success factors for excellent questions
If you are looking for excellent answers, you have to put the foundation stone with excellent questions. Six success factors for successful questions:
success 1: Consideration of the moderation check
The moderation check (see part 2) accompanies us also with questions. When formulating the questions, it is important to once again clarify the objectives and general conditions of the moderation and to pay attention to the influence that the participants have on the result.
Success Factor 2: Avoid Inappropriate Questions
Avoid leading questions and closed questions that can only be answered with “Yes” or “No”. Even the stylistic device of the rhetorical question tends to cause confusion.
Success Factor 3: Ask openly
Work with all open W questions - but refrain from why, why, why, because these question words provoke justifications. Would you like an example? “Why are our sales figures behind the targets for the third consecutive quarter?” Only when reading the question does the “justification mode” appear internally.
Success Factor 4: Just ask
Questions should not attract a beauty contest, but should encourage participants to think and act. Ask in simple and understandable language so that all participants understand you. The participants should shake their heads about the answer to the question, not the question itself.
Success Factor 5: Get the participants where they are
Have a look at the participants and put them in their positions before they formulate questions. The participants' spectacles help to incorporate different perspectives into the questions. Empathy is in demand!
Success Factor 6: Visualize your question
It is presumptuous to believe that all participants will give us their full attention at the very moment when we put the question into the round. Therefore, it helps to visualize questions using whiteboard, beamer or flipchart.
Away from the problem - towards the solution
There is an order behind every moderation - but there is often a problem behind it: “The mood in the team is bad”, “Innovative product innovations are in short supply” or “Customers want better service.” Don't let that get you into the fenugreek! Because a crucial aspect of systemic moderation is precisely the lack of focus on the problem - instead, it works with goal-, solution- and resource-oriented questions.
Imagine confronting your workshop participants with the problems above. This not only depresses the mood in the room, but also prevents creative solutions, since those present remain in the loss-making “problem mode”. Instead, allow the participants to change perspectives for the task to be solved. You can grant the following perspectives:
The viewer's view
Conversations rotate in circles - the participants are completely caught in their own view. Everyday madness in the meeting? It doesn't have to be! Grant your participants the viewer's gaze so that they gain distance and escape the tunnel view. The following sample question can help: “Assume that a stranger comes in at the exact moment. How would the situation look to him? And what solutions would he have? ”
The look of the pioneer
Groups often get lost in small and small - they lose sight of the big picture. The group literally does not come out of the slush. Here it can help to offer the participants the role of a pioneer: “They all know personalities who play a pioneering role in their respective industries, who don't follow the trends, but shape them themselves. What would this pioneer do if you were you? ”
The look of the partners
Sometimes it also helps to take the perspective of an actor who comes from our own system - the perspective of the customer, the supplier or the manager. Each of these actors is directly or indirectly affected by our actions. An example question could be: "If our small customers were allowed to put together their World Savings Day gifts themselves - which would be the absolute hit?"
To see through the spectacles of other participants is to leave the indented ways of thinking and to arrive at new options. Try out the perspective changes, play with it and you will be amazed at the positive results.
Step out of the present into the future
We all have goals and dreams, but we always find reasons why we have not yet done this or that project. Bring the horse back from the back: let the sparkling wine corks already pound, and just do as if the goal had already been reached. Viewed from the sun's side, the mountain to be overcome is by no means so high. Catapulting into a positive future can take the debilitating pressure and open a clear view of the success factors and set screws you can turn on.
Give this clear view to your participants as they stand in front of the virtually insurmountable mountain.
Questions such as "Assuming that you have already increased the awareness of your product in the target group by fifty percent - which communication channels would have been particularly important for this?" In a two-step question, you can put one more thing on the agenda by deliberately focusing on the present and the future. Step 1: “Assuming we had successfully implemented the quota for women: How would we work together and communicate with each other in the management team?" Step 2: “Which lever can we move today so that we can align our cooperation accordingly today?”
With the headstand you can see better
Friendliness in dealing with the customers is everywhere written, that knows now everyone - from the management day to the cashier. But what happens when customer surveys draw a gloomy picture of the service? How should the company improve here, if already every employee has already internalized the value of the friendliness in the service? But does this really have any or is this value mere waste?
Here it helps to turn your head upside down: Draw the worst horror scenario! Try it with the question: "What can we do to scare off our customers completely?" You will be amazed at the creative answers you receive and how some employees get pondered at the same time, whether they are not at one point or another without a malicious intent, but are therefore more seriously violating the value system. This method is particularly useful in deadlocked situations or when participants are unaware of the effects of their behavior.
Fill empty phrases with life
"We as a company rely on trust, transparency and appreciation towards the customer" - boring isn't it? But why? Because every company claims these interchangeable keywords as a philosophy and prints them on its website or in glossy brochures.
So what if these empty tags are nicely written by the participants on moderation cards when the job is to improve the mood in the team? Here the moderator has to ask wisely and fill these lifeless terms with life. Bring the participants back to real life. For example, through questions like “What behaviors of your colleagues would you recognize that they have confidence in you?”
The best slogans are of little use if the employees do not live these communicated values. If the slogan is "We are clearing the way", the employees should be asked the question: "How can I behave that my customer feels like I'm clearing his way?"
The view into the treasure chest
As a moderator, you can draw on the rich experience of your participants and appreciate their abilities and above all their successes. If there is a seemingly unsolvable problem in the room, the gaze automatically drifts off into the negative. Actively act as a moderator, reminding your participants of their achievements and merits they can be proud of. Help with questions like "What is going particularly well in your team, which success stories are you particularly proud of?" or “How did you manage to work so successfully last year despite the vacancy?”
Now you have come to know a wealth of possible questions. Just try it out! And do not make it too difficult. Because there is not one right question - many roads lead to Rome. Be creative as you ask, be aware of the immediate reactions and inspire your participants!
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German edition: ISBN 9783965960466
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