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acceptable to ask questions to those
above her. "I wasn't sure if it was okay
to manage up. I usually walked away
thinking that I was given all the infor-
mation I needed," she said. "Some-
times you forget that you need to be
the second check. Having these ques-
tions made me confident when I would
ask my managers questions."
While Kathryn's favorite question when
providing information to her team is
"What do I know that you don't know?,"
my favorite question is "Why?" I en-
joy this question the most because it
connects the project with the end us-
ers and makes it personal. When it's
personal, you can make an emotional
connection to the project.
The Importance of the `Why'
When Assigning Projects
I was going over a data-entry project
with a brand-new staffer within the first
few weeks of him starting with the firm.
As I was going through the five ques-
tions to explain what I wanted him to
do, I could sense that he did not un-
derstand the importance of the project
from the client's perspective.
Rather than continue through the
five questions in order, I paused and
skipped straight to the why. I told him
a bit about the client, some of the
unique aspects that made working on
his projects really cool, and a bit about
his family and why he reached out to
us to help him out. Once the staffer un-
derstood why we were doing the proj-
ect, which was to give the client free
time to handle some personal matters
(rather than categorize bank transac-
tions), the staff was 100% engaged on
the project.
As a staff, you should ensure that you
know the answers to all these ques-
tions before you start the project. If you
aren't given the answers when you're
assigned the project, ask them! These
questions are a great way to "manage
up" and make sure you're getting what
you need from your supervisor. With-
out the answers, you may end up du-
plicating efforts, performing unneces-
sary steps, or completing the project
later than it is needed.
As a supervisor, you can arm your
team members with the information
they need to succeed, which will drive
your success and theirs.
The Importance of the `Why'
When Taking on Projects
I was involved in a meeting once where
the client asked us to help him put
some numbers from his financial state-
ment onto a form his customer had
sent him. As we were going through
the numbers, I noticed a pattern and
asked why he needed these particular
figures. He told me he was using the
figures to submit a bid on a project that
could increase his company's sales by
30%. He said it would result in 10 ad-
ditional jobs and more profits to split
among the company's employees.
New and Young
Sessions on:
Self-Motivation, Time Management, Delivering Effective Communication,
Introduction to Crucial Conversation, and more ... plus, free headshots!
3rd Annual
New and Young Professionals
Leadership Conference
member price:
Learn more at
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
CTCPA Education Center
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