The Nosey Project Manager

Yes, I have been accused (proudly) many times of being nosey. Why is this and why am I proud?

When I visit a client they often have a view of what they want. The trouble is it is in their head and it is often difficult for them to articulate. Or they can say what they want but it is in such technical language that few can understand. My role is therefore to ask questions; lots of questions; questions that are often difficult to answer but provide me (and others) with a clearer vision that helps us towards delivery of the project.

I have been told that I ask too many questions and that the questions I ask are really tough to answer and yes, I have been told I am nosey!! I regard that as great feedback. It is a compliment to the great training I have had over many years.

But, it raises a question for project managers; how good are you at asking questions? A good project manager needs among other things to:

• understand the scope of the project
• establish whether the project is worth while doing
• develop clear project roles with team members
• manage and communicate with stakeholders
• understand and manage project risks
• develop solid project plans

All of the above need the project manager to be able to ask questions skilfully (and be able to listen to the answers.)

My own researches show that project managers ask questions but often these are the wrong questions and they do not probe deeply enough. I have tested this on project management events and the result has been the development of a simple tool that I am happy to share with you. This is a document that describes the types of questions and when they are and not useful. It also gives you some pointers on what can encourage as well as inhibit answering.

In my early days as a trainer I had someone look at my questioning skills. They sat in meetings that I attended and I have to say it was a real lesson. I discovered that I used lots of leading and even more closed questions (when I should have been asking open questions). This feedback was really useful and ever since I have prided myself on using powerful questions to get effective answers. So, get your feedback by downloading this useful document. It helps you identify the types of questions to ask and how to identify whether you have asked them!

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever” Chinese Proverbs

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