Asking Questions to Drive Efficiency and Add Value

By: Neeta Solanki, Strategic Business Coach who partners with business owners to transform and champion their business into exponential financial success

After my accountancy degree, getting married to my college-sweetheart and securing my first full-time role as an Assistant Management Accountant, my manager, Royston said, “Don’t do any task just because it has always been done”.

He got me questioning “Why?”, “Why is that?”, “Why do we do that?”, something most children are told to stop doing by irritated adults, and many adults today have just stopped asking. Asking questions moulded me into who I am today and also prepared me for my pivotable career change. Questioning drives efficiency and adds value.

As I entered the world of software, process improvement, change management, analytics, and teamwork, I became more adept at influencing change for the better. I constantly asked myself: “So what?” By asking that question, I had the opportunity to reflect and ensure that all my advice and actions added value. : –
“Am I adding value? Who cares what I have to say?” Sometimes this can be seen as being disruptive; I say, it’s being passionate and accountable for my actions.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. But, sometimes expressing your views, especially if it instigates change,, or simply sharing your thoughts, can be resented by others. Easier said then done, right?

For me, I experienced this mainly from women, both in the corporate world and in social life. Stay pretty by staying quiet. This attitude can become so stressful and demoralising, almost to the point of breakdown, that one has to question, “Who am I? What do I stand for?” And so, this has become my strength, my warrior presence of standing my ground, and to be the change I want to see, in order to serve others as well as myself.

This has been useful for my clients – offering experience in many industries, working in and for businesses at different levels, from end-user or customer-facing right up to C-level, helping them think outside of the box; to be visionary, as well as innovating, by challenging why they do what they do.

For example, when I started my own consultancy business after leaving the corporate world, I started to question my new client’s processes – why certain situations were simply accepted and not challenged.

Although this may sound disruptive, it was very welcomed. I am driven by customer satisfaction and efficiency, and I was not only able to achieve greater performance in terms of reporting times, but also end-user engagement, which meant the company’s ROI had suddenly increased.

And so today, I not only help Entrepreneurs and Business Owners take courageous actions to live their purpose, but also encourage them to begin questioning again, asking why: –
• Why is that?
• Who does this impact?
• Why do I do this?
• Why do I feel like this?
• Who really cares what I do?

Till they have exhausted all the whys, and then say, “So, what am I going to do about this?”.

This helps to overcome procrastination, and, it also moves towards a growth mindset and a greater purpose. This may mean learning new approaches, learning from other entrepreneurs, their wins and their mistakes, to get faster results or, being mentored and coached.

Also, entrepreneurs and business owners may conclude simply to accept the need to outsource. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Accepting the need to outsource is more about awareness – to focus on your strengths and accepting your weaknesses. For example, many entrepreneurs dislike posting on social media. Although not a weakness, it can be time consuming, and they should be focusing on using their skills to generate the next big client contract rather than trying to work out how to post an Instagram Reel.

I did challenge myself over a period to accept situations, for example lackluster service at particular restaurants. You see if you accept a particular level of service, things stay the same, there is no improvement, and the owner is not aware of the dissatisfaction. When it comes to serving patrons, for example, the restaurant owner will continue to serve the same and may begin to wonder why patrons are on a decline. Yes, there is a skill on giving constructive feedback, it must be delivered with compassion and empathy.

I have also learnt that an unhappy client is a great source of information on how one can gain more clients. Remember not all unhappy clients are vocal, some just walk away, never to be seen again. I am all for taking a negative situation and seeing how we can convert it into a positive situation, a challenge to overcome.
You can ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”. We serve our clients to help them overcome a pain, or seek a gain, yet if you are not hitting those trigger points or not listening to client feedback, the need for your service will decline. And so, the ownership is on both parties, to listen as a supplier but to also have your voice heard as a client.

To conclude, I encourage you to start questioning at different levels by questioning yourself, your actions, other people’s actions such as your clients, and be the change you want to see.

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