Questions to ask during one-on-one’s

Clients sometimes ask for input on how to conduct great one-on-one meetings with their team members. One suggestion is to ask good questions. A recent blog post at Soapbox provided 9 helpful questions to consider.

  1. What are your biggest time wasters?
  2. What does our organization/department need to start doing?
  3. Would you like less or more direction from me about your work? In which area(s)?
  4. Are you getting enough feedback about your work? Where are the gaps?
  5. What could I do to make your job easier?
  6. Is there an aspect of your job that you need more help or coaching with?
  7. How could we improve the way our team works together?
  8. On a scale of 1-10, how challenged are you at work?
  9. What organizational strategy or goal are you least clear about

What do you think? Which questions are missing? Are there any you don’t like? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Thanks to Brennan at Soapbox for the great content!

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Email:

Playoff Leadership

When sports teams make it to the playoffs they often speak of the need to play at a higher level. Players and coaches refer to it as “the next gear”, ” giving 110%” or “leaving it all on the table”. Successful teams learn how to squeeze out that extra effort when they need it the most.

Imagine if you worked that way. Or if your employees did. All the time!

This was the goal of Bob Hartley, coach of the Calgary Flames hockey club this season. Two years earlier the team traded their superstars and embarked on a rebuilding process in order to be a future playoff contender. But somehow they achieved this goal in year two of the rebuild. Many believe that their success can be attributed to how Hartley trained his team.

So how did he do it? He began with the end in mind! He told his team that he wanted them to think that the playoffs began when the puck dropped in the first game of the regular season. In other words, there were no optional games or a point where they had to learn to dig deep. Instead, he taught them to play that way all year long.

Hartley knows that playoffs are a best-of-seven series of games. So he broke the regular season into twelve seven game playoff segments. His teams’ goal was to win each of these seven-game series. It was a lofty goal for a team whose best line has players who are 20 and 21 years of age! Remarkably, the Flames used this system to win ten of twelve series (they tied one). This feat earned an inexperienced team their first playoff berth since 2009.

What can we learn as we apply this lesson to ourselves or our organizations?

  1. Vision big. If you have the talent, no matter how young, aim high. This team should not have made the playoffs. But their vision was big enough to provide the opportunity.
  2. Plan long. A plan was in place months before playoffs began. We must begin with the end in mind.
  3. Measure short. Large projects can be overwhelming. However, a series of seven game segments keeps it simple. Each small goal had measurables by which to define success or failure.
  4. Make it attainable. Hartley knew that a young team can’t undertake a goal they cannot understand. Large projects can be overwhelming. Therefore, he broke a big goal into several smaller goals. Clear and attainable goals and help create a ‘do it’ attitude.

Planning with the end in mind is not rocket science. However, sometimes it is the simple principles that work best. Just ask Bob Hartley.

Note: The Flames next seven game series, their first of the 2015 NHL playoffs, begins at 8:00 PST on Wednesday, April 15.


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a hockey nut, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational Future-Readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

Change Agents: The personal characteristics required to navigate change

In the class I am teaching on organizational development, my students are studying how to facilitate change, both personally and organizationally. Part of this process has included discussion about the attributes of people who are good at leading change.

Based on our dialogue, here are four attributes of people who effectively facilitate change:

1. They are willing to be wrong. It takes courage to acknowledge that you are wrong. However, a lack of willingness to do so creates a barrier to change. As Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”.

2. They embrace learning. Some individuals derive a lot of enjoyment from learning new things. As a result, mistakes are a required ingredient in learning new ideas. Bill Nye (the Science Guy) exemplifies this when he states, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t!”.

3. They know how much they don’t know. This relates to my first point about courage but focuses on the attribute of humility instead. It takes humility to acknowledge how much you don’t know. I experienced this a few months ago when a friend gave me a back-handed compliment. He stated, “I enjoy being with you more than I used to because you are less certain of things”. I trust that reflects personal growth in realizing how much I don’t know!

4. They have a thick skin. Sometimes you have to be tough when you learn hard lessons. John Piper once noted that you will never make it if criticism disables you (thanks to Marissa for this great quote and idea). At times, change will require you to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again.

In summary, courage, enjoying learning, humility and toughness are all ingredients of people who are good at facilitating change. What are some other attributes you would add to this list?

Jeff Suderman is a professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and their FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California.

Piper, J.  (2011). The Marks of a Spiritual Leader (p. 25)