This week, we are continuing to uncover more ways that we can ask the right questions of our teams and coalitions. As I emphasized in last week’s post ask the right questions, it is really important to understand your situation and your audience to determine the best way to get input from your partners. If someone tells you, I’m not a phone person or another person tells you that they have more than 1,000 emails in their inbox, you will want to pay attention to this if you really want to get their input!
This week, we are highlighting 3 more ways that you can “Ask the right questions” of your workgroup or team.
- Telephone or text message. For some situations and some members of your team, they are not available in person or via video chat or webinar. They may travel frequently or have a terrible time keeping up with email. They may be uncomfortable using video or they may not have the technology. Others may not be able to keyboard quickly and thus would prefer a telephone conversation. For any of these people, text message and telephone may work really well. Just because they are not participating or providing input during your meetings or responding to emails, doesn’t mean they don’t want to provide feedback. You may just need to be creative and try other methods to reach them. I can think of at least three people I work with often who I know will respond to my text message or phone call but will rarely respond any other way. I value their input, so I take the time to diversify my feedback methods.
- Email. I don’t know about you, but I have a “love/hate” relationship with email. It can be really great at collecting information from individuals or groups – particularly if it’s brief. You can usually get really quick feedback (unless you are asking a person who doesn’t really use or keep up with email). For instance, there are many times when I have a short deadline but I want feedback from a small team. I will send an email that has a subject “Please respond yes if the draft plan is ready to go…” or something like that. It’s amazing how quickly I can get responses just asking this brief question via email. Also, while there are some people who engage best on the phone, there are others who avoid the phone at all costs and would prefer an email if possible. Again, it’s helpful to know your audience.
- Anonymously (electronic or paper evaluations). Depending upon the type of information you are asking, it can be helpful to do this anonymously. This is particularly true if there are folks who would like to provide their opinion but don’t really want to be identified. We recently hosted a training where the trainer seemed particularly ineffective. The group we were working with did not have a mechanism for evaluation and we thought it was important to find out if our participants had a positive or negative impression of the trainer and the training overall. This information will help us plan for how much work we will need to do potentially “re-train” folks on the platform. We developed a very brief, anonymous electronic survey. Our participants are assured that they can provide open and honest feedback and we can have a mechanism for evaluating the situation and making modifications for the future. If you are leading an in-person meeting, you may want to solicit feedback using an anonymous paper evaluation. For many settings, this works best because you can get feedback immediately and you don’t have to worry if folks will open their email later to complete an electronic survey.
So what about you? What method (s) have you found to be helpful in asking questions of your partners or team members? One-on-one meetings (in-person or video chat), Group meetings (in-person or video chat), telephone/text message, email or anonymous surveys?
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