This one question will take your business to the next level.  Unfortunately, most leaders and managers never ask it.  In fact, they purposely avoid asking it.  Most of all, they resent it when employees give them the answers to the question without even asking. So, what is this magical question that when asked provides you will all the answers? The human brain is an amazing thing.  It operates about 30 times faster than the worlds fastest supercomputers.  It operates so quickly that if you ask any employee to accomplish a stretch goal their brain will immediately come up with all the reasons why the goal can’t be completed.  This is when managers need to listen up and take notes, because the obstacle is the way.

The One Question You Need To Ask: What’s Not Working?

To harness the brain power of your employees you need to ask this simple question as often as possible.  Ask them “What’s not working?”  That’s it.  That’s the only thing you need to ask them.  Fair warning here, before you ask, prepare yourself for what comes next.  Have a notebook handy and be totally open minded.  Take nothing personally, just listen and write. Normally, the entrepreneurs I know would call these complaints.  And some are.  I used to get very annoyed when I would hear people complaining, until I realized, if harnessed the right way, we can take the complaints and transform them into strategies that will take the business to the next level.

How Often Should I Ask?

While implementing EOS®, we recommend having The Quarterly Conversation™ with each of your employees.  You start out by complimenting what they are doing well with their Rocks, Roles and Core Values, then you simply ask “What’s working and what’s not working?”  Again, this is where the magic begins.  I also recommend that if you are doing daily standup meetings with your team you ask them what’s not working for them, what obstacles and barriers exist that prevent them from doing their job. In order for you to get the benefit of your employees brain power you have to create a culture of open and honest communication.  You won’t get the pure gold in their heads if they are fearful or intimidated.  Make sure you promote a culture of openness without fear.

What Do I Do With All These Issues?

Your goal as a leader and manager is to smoke out all the issues from the lowest levels of the business and address them in your quarterly Rock setting sessions.  In the meantime, every department should be carrying an Issues List.  An Issues List is one of the most important documents you can keep in your business.  Remember, the obstacle is the way.  The Issues List is the raw material for everything you want from your business. The added benefit is that your employees appreciate it when they see your quarterly V/TO™ and one of their issues made it as a company Rock or 1-Year Plan goal.  This method is tremendous in aligning the entire business around achieving your vision.