12 Better Questions to Ask Un-cooperative Colleagues

Cooperation. Collaboration. Easy to prescribe. Hard to do. Why?

Because everyone is operating with different views of the goals. Some people might be skilled at their job, but still don’t know how to cooperate. Others may be anxious to hide their deficiencies on the project so they cannot cooperate. You get the picture.

It’s a hidden cost in your next project. And, there’s little point in analyzing why cooperation on your project is going to be difficult!

How do we simplify things a little, improve productivity and make progress? Ask better questions using a *Solution Focus framework:

  • Thinking of our project what’s working so far, or worked in the past?

This is a platform for noticing resources available to start moving forward

  • Thinking of our goals for the work, how would you express them?

Make sure you are talking the same outcomes and language to describe them.

  • What will be better / different from the last time or the current state?

Clarify perceived problems about getting to the goal. Clarify what needs to happen, but do not enter problem analysis.

  • Suppose we achieve our goal, what will be happening for the various stakeholders, including the customers and ourselves?

Get a richer picture of the goal outcomes to ensure that you are talking about the same outcomes. Find out what everyone wants.

  • Thinking of those outcomes, how will that be useful to each of us, i.e., achieving our personal / team goals?

Attach outcomes to individual needs.

  • What surprises / obstacles do we face in achieving the goals?

There are bound to be problems. Flush them out, but avoid problem analysis.

  • What would we do to overcome those surprises / obstacles?

Alleviate fears that will get in the way. Build resourcefulness ahead of time.

  • When we are successful, what will we and our leaders be saying about our cooperation / collaboration that helped to make it happen?

Be assumptive about the possibilities. Assume good faith will preside if everyone is pursuing the same outcomes.

  • What will we see ourselves doing to support each other, even when things get complicated?

Continue to have the team / individuals add details as to how cooperation will happen.

  • How will we acknowledge our successes, both as we progress and at the end?

Noticing (and measuring) success helps them notice their capabilities to cooperate.

  • What will be the first signs that we are making progress with our cooperation?

Get them doing something right away so they have evidence of their capabilities.

  • What would we each like to say to acknowledge your colleagues’ cooperation in this discussion?

Gets more fast-start application of cooperation.

Why ask so many questions? Slow down to speed up your project. 

Take an hour with the team st the start of your next project. Answer the questions. Save many inefficient hours getting to the outcomes.

*About Solution Focus