Sequential questioning is essentially a quick assessment exercise. As a facilitation tool, it has the power to uncover potential issues and conflicts very quickly.
Typically, a facilitator will ask a series of closed questions (those that only require a simple “yes” or “no” answer). That is to say, sequential questioning removes the need for any unnecessary discussion which can be particularly illuminating at the start of a meeting or workshop.
Sequential questioning draws out honesty and allows facilitators to gauge what participants feel about a number of issues. At the start of a new project, for example, it could be useful to know what team members feel are the strong and weak points of previous projects. Understanding what went well (and what didn’t) can help form the basis of a better plan this time around.
Here’s 12 example questions, all designed to uncover sensitive information without immediately inviting discussion:
“Do you think the last task was a success?”
“Working alone, would you have done things differently?”
“Do you think staff received enough training?”
“Do you think the product that met the client’s expectations?”
“Do you think employees are listened to by the management?”
“Do you feel there is enough communication between staff?”
“Do you feel that you performed your duties to the best of your ability?”
“Do you think that the method chosen for the task was the right choice?”
“Do you feel that enough time was put aside to ensure the task was completed?”
“Do you think the manager behaved in an appropriate manner?”
“Do you feel you and your team were adequately prepared for dealing with this situation?”
“Do you feel there are any changes you could have made?”
Sequential questioning can appear challenging, possibly even abrupt at first. However, when performed well, sequential questioning can be a good ice breaker, creating awareness among the group of the need for further discussion. Plus, the questions raise obvious talking points and provide a good road map of what the remainder of the meeting should cover.
Start your next big business meeting off with an intense bout of sequential questioning. Put your participants on the spot, yield information, test assumptions… Once it’s all out in the open, you can start work on a plan that addresses the problems raised. They might thank you for it.
For more information on facilitation tools, check out our Infographic: Process Tools for Effective Meeting Facilitation