To perform well, you must be prepared. That's why I have a handful of go-to questions for common entrepreneurial situations.
Whether I'm interviewing a candidate or pondering company growth, trying to land a meeting or providing an employee with feedback, these one-liners help me cut through the clutter. By following this guide, you're guaranteed to find the responses you're looking for to create greater success.
Take a look:
When interviewing a candidate
Hiring the right person can make or break a company's future, both in the short and long term. How can you determine if a candidate is best for a role? For me, there's one question that will always show if he or she will be a fit:
"What was the last piece of critical feedback that you received from a peer or from your manger?"
From there, you're in a great position to ask these follow-ups: Did you agree with it? What have you done about it since?
I want to know that someone is professionally mature enough to notice when they are receiving feedback. This question is applicable to anyone, regardless of their role or experience level. You'll quickly see if a candidate acknowledges an interest in continuous professional growth--no matter what stage of their career they're in.
This question can also unearth red flags. If they tell you they've never received any critical feedback or if they only share positive feedback--be on alert! This question's purpose is to determine if the candidate is self-aware enough to recognize feedback, register that feedback, and grow from it.
When you need to grow
If you're like me, you often reflect on ways you can improve in your business and in your life. But have you ever asked someone else?
My go-to question in this situation isn't always the most comfortable one to ask, but it's always important:
"What can I be doing better?"
I ask this on the board level, to my employees, or even to my kids. I want to hear, from different perspectives, where and how I can better serve myself and those around me.
Make no mistake: It can be intimidating. You're opening yourself up to feedback you may not be ready to hear.
The truth is, it's always helpful. By asking my employees and management team what I could do differently, both myself and the company can improve. At my company, Arkadium, these conversations have sparked the creation of new systems like a quarterly cadence for goal reviews and specific company KPIs.
When trying to land that hard-to-get meeting
When it comes to booking a meeting with someone who could be a game-changer for your business, the pressure is on. How do you get their attention? What can you do to secure a slot on their exclusive calendar?
In these situations, the question I ask is not directed outward. Instead, I ask myself:
"Have I formed a genuine relationship with this person?"
If you reach out to someone cold, having never met or spoken with them, they may not have a reason to answer.
But you can take the time to foster a real relationship. Ask people about their interests, vacations and family. Do it in a genuine way that's not self-serving.
It takes time and energy. But when someone realizes you're genuine, they're naturally more inclined to do friendly business.
When providing constructive feedback
At Arkadium, I have an important philosophy: We're all here to constantly learn so that we can evolve, succeed and be happy.
Feedback is one of the ways you can learn more about yourself, improve your weaknesses and develop your career.
As a CEO, I view it as my responsibility to set the tone and expectation for how to give feedback within my organization. When providing feedback, the one question I ask is simple:
"Can I give you some feedback?"
Sounds straight-forward, right? That's by design. By asking this question, the person immediately becomes alerted that they're about to hear feedback, not just an off-handed comment, and it should be registered as such.
This question also gives the person an opportunity to be in the right mindset to receive feedback. What if they just walked into the office after being stuck on a train for an hour? They'd understandably not be in the optimal mood to process feedback. It's valid for somebody to suggest a different time to discuss.
The point of feedback is for it to be received - not to feel good about giving it. When you practice this direct question with your employees, you'll build stronger teams and give individuals an opportunity to modify what they're doing to achieve greater success.
You learn a lot more by asking questions than you do by making statements. What are you going to ask today?