Home Leadership How to Ask Questions That Will Activate Your Employees

How to Ask Questions That Will Activate Your Employees

by Craig Ross

Think of the questions you asked or were asked at your last company meeting. It’s likely that you heard one, if not more of the following questions:

What do you think?

Are there any questions?

What’s next?

What’s the problem?

What are the results?

What’s the agenda for the meeting?

These aren’t necessarily bad questions and do serve a purpose in improving performance. However, their prominence in the majority of workplaces is an important clue as to why teams don’t always work together efficiently, and consequently deliver mediocre levels of productivity.

Long Lever Questions

Changing the way we look at questions, using Long Lever Questions and focusing on what we want accomplished through asking questions that are simple, yet, central ways to activate inspired teamwork. Long Lever questions are powerful because they help people go past the edge of what they know and discover new aspects to a situation, issue or problem. It’s also common for Long Lever Questions to enable a team to efficiently and fully address issues that have been avoided and inspire teams, since they can generate possibilities.

Long Lever Questions include any combination of the following qualities:

  • Are focused on solutions and moving a situation forward
  • Drive inclusiveness and co-discovery
  • Elevate thinking, often connecting to purpose and desired long-term outcomes
  • Establish a specific focus with team alignment
  • Accomplish full information flow
  • Well-timed to strengthen trust

How to Ask Long Lever Questions

In order to create Long Lever Questions, begin by building on some of the general questions listed above and using conjunctions to make questions more detailed. This will result in more thorough responses. Asking, “what’s the next step we can take to better meet our clients’ needs” may provide more valuable responses than vaguely asking, “what’s next?”

During your next meeting, consider using one of the following conjunctions to elevate your questions to the next level: so, and, or, yet, for.

Other examples of Long Lever questions include:

  • In what specific way must we become more effective as a team

that is also important to our customers?

  • What’s the most important thing we need to achieve on this

project so we know we’re walking the talk when it comes to our

quality objectives?

  • As you consider the future, where in our process development do we

need to improve – and what difference will those improvements


  • When we’re done with this effort, what’s the experience we want

to have as a team?

  • For us to have a breakthrough in this area, what would have to be

true about our actions?

For more on Long Lever Questions check out the book ONE Team.

*Image courtesy of smarnad at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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