Why questions don’t always help leaders get better results

By Heather Campbell

How’s your week been? Lots of good stuff, I’m sure. But I’d also hazard a guess that too many meetings have eaten up too much time with little to show for it. You’re not alone! This is a constant frustration for the majority of leaders.

Given the reality of meeting overload that leaders face, I’m always drawn to high quality research and resources that I can share. As such, I picked up an article from top consulting firm, McKinsey & Co, on how to make meetings more productive. I’ve shared a link to the article at the end of the email so you can check it out for yourself later.

For now, though, stick with me because I’ve an important question for you. How do you know if you have created a good meeting environment?

McKinsey suggests – and I heartily agree – that this matters because you’ll get better results from your meetings if the environment is right. No surprise there, of course.

The article states that a good meeting environment is one where there’s a high degree of psychological safety. Again, I heartily agree. Psychological safety will ensure that people share openly, listen generously, and challenge others without fear of being undermined, causing offence or being made to look a fool.

But how do you know if psychological safety exists in your meeting?

McKinsey’s article suggests leaders ask their teams the following questions to ascertain if they experience psychological safety.

  • Do they have space to bring up concerns or dissent?
  • Do they feel that if they make a mistake it will be held against them?
  • Do they feel they can take risks or ask for help?
  • Do they feel others may undermine them?
  • Do they feel valued for their unique skills and talents?

And it’s here that I part company with McKinsey because I heartily disagree with their advice. Yes, these conditions all exist in an environment of psychological safety but there is absolutely NO POINT in asking anyone these questions. Here’s why.

If psychological safety doesn’t exist, there is no way that anyone in your team will give you an honest answer to these questions. They are not going to say that they don’t have space to bring up concerns or dissent, or don’t feel they can take risks, or dare not ask for help. Of course, they aren’t. They don’t have the psychological safety to do so.

I’d also suggest that, if you have to ask, you’ve already got your answer.

But that begs the question, how can you ascertain if there is psychological safety in your meetings? I’ll share the secret to this in next week’s email.

For now, have a great week and, as always, observe yourself and others with interest and learning, not with criticism and judgement.

P.S. Here’s the link to the McKinsey article: If we’re all so busy why isn’t anything getting done

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}