Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tangent. Sort of.

This has something to do with measurement and everything to do with internal communications, so bear with me.

Between you and me, I'm against planted questions at Town Halls and other internal meetings. If people are not curious or comfortable enough to ask a question, we should know that and address it. (That's the measurement part.) I've never seen any evidence that planted questions "prime the pump" for additional questions. I have seen planted questions blow up when the setup was exposed. It can seriously undermine attendees' faith in what they are hearing and seeing.

One officer I worked for years ago would ask for questions at the end of his monthly video call with staff. If there were none or only one he would slowly say "I can't believe that there are no more questions. Just one question? No one has any questions about our company?" He didn't have to go on very long before questions started to come up. It's so much about a leader's perceived interest in actually addressing issues. Planted questions, I think, send the message that leadership is not interested in real questions, but in the perception of real questions. And let's face it -- the questions we dream up to plant just sound phoney. "What can I do to help drive additional market share?" "How do you think our values contributed to our good third-quarter results?" Ugh.

If leaders really want to answer questions they can be coached to elicit them.

OK, I'm climbing down off my soap box.

(I can't believe I haven't posted in two months...)