What’s your what?
It’s the key to most relationships – a boss, a co-worker, a person you supervise, a customer – so taking time to learning what a person’s what is takes time and effort.
What’s the what, you ask? Take a boss as an example. Every boss has a few things that mean more to him or her than anything else. When you know your boss’s what, you have a much better chance to deliver it.
Years ago, I had a boss who liked quick turnarounds, meaning I couldn’t just add his requests to the bottom of my to-do list. When I started asking him specifics about his timetable for needing the job completed, things got much better. On the rush jobs, it gave me the opportunity to discuss what items could be put on hold in order to meet his deadline. This approach saved the hurt feelings when I thought the request was a rush and it was not.
Here are some key questions you can ask your boss to help learn his or her what:
— “I want to be sure I’m meeting your expectations. What is the best way to communicate with you? How would you like to hear information? How would you like me to ask questions?
— “What are the things that are the highest priorities in this role?”
— “When you think of great employees and what they do, what comes to mind?”
— “Is there anything that drives you crazy that I need to avoid?”
For a co-worker, knowing the what makes for a better working relationship. A person was with an organization where most of the staff worked in cubicles. One shared that he would appreciate if people did not just walk into his cubicle, instead preferring for people to wait and ask if it was a good time to interrupt. After he explained why he preferred this, the entire department adopted the approach. Treat each cubicle as if there is a door. Later, they even had “please do not disturb” signs for times when they could not stop the task they were on.
Key questions for co-workers:
— “What’s the most important thing to you that makes a good team player?”
— “What are some suggestions you have for me so I can be a better co-worker?”
Knowing the what for employees can help companies retain strong workers. That ranges from knowing how employees want to be recognized, how important development is to them, the training they want, how to best approach them on tasks that they need to improve in, what their favorite sport teams are, hobbies, their favorite treat, information they want to know, ways they want to contribute and any skills they have that could be helpful. Employees want to contribute and knowing their what helps engage the employee and maximizes their skill set.
Key questions for an employee:
— “What it something I can do as your supervisor to make sure this is a great place to work?”
— “What are you some areas you would like to be developed in?”
— “What are some things I need to be careful of because you find them demotivating?”
Just recently a business in town learned a new salesperson they hired had a background as a graphic artist. This person started helping with designs that saved the business money and made the employee feel great. Knowing what makes a person tick is critical in all relationships.
Knowing the customers’ what retains them as well, from what they usually order to their family and interests. Create a way to remember the customer’s what and have it captured so others can know it. This helps keep a customer when there is turnover in the organization.
The biggest key for learning a customer’s what? Be interested vs. being interesting.
There used to be a television show called Blind Date. They would show a couple dating, and I noticed that the end of the date, if one of the people talked about themselves the entire time, the host would ask that person how the date went and they’d say, “It went great!”
They would ask the other person and they would say “Absolutely terrible, all they did was talk about themselves.”
Focusing on listening intently can make your customer feel good and grow your business.
Take that extra time to know the what for your customer, your employees, your co-workers and your boss and you know what you’ll find? A healthier, stronger company.