John Miller is a friend of mine. He is also the author of a great little book called “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question.” John says that all too often we ask the wrong questions when we run into problems. These questions focus on other people. They seek to find who to blame for our troubles and difficulties. John suggests that you (and I) should ask the question behind the question – the question that empowers us and helps us take charge of our life and career success.
John is on to something here. His question behind the question concept is great career advice. QBQs, as John calls them, help us become persistent and keep going in the face of difficulties.
At the end of the book, John provides “a great list of lousy questions,” along with a QBQ that he suggests will help you move toward your life and career success. Check them out…
Lousy Customer Service Questions
- When will shipping start getting orders out on time?
- Why do our customers expect so much of us?
- Why don’t customers follow the instructions?
Customer Service QBQ
- How can I best serve our customers?
Lousy Sales Questions
- Why are our prices so high?
- When will our products become more competitive?
- Why won’t customers call me back?
- When will marketing give us better sales aids?
- Why can’t manufacturing make what we sell?
- What can I do today to become a more effective sales person?
- How can I add value for my customers?
Lousy Marketing Questions
- When will salespeople deliver our programs?
- Why won’t salespeople take the time to learn our new products?
- What can I do to understand sales reps’ issues and concerns?
- How can I learn more about what our customers want and need?
Lousy Manufacturing Questions
- Why can’t salespeople stay within our capabilities?
- When will they learn to sell according to our specifications?
- How can I better understand the challenges our salespeople face?
Lousy Individual Contributor Questions
- Why do we have to go through all this change?
- When will I get the training I need?
- Why don’t I get paid more?
- Who is going to clarify my role and responsibilities?
- When is management going to get their act together?
- Who will set our vision?
Individual Contributor QBQs
- What can I do to be more productive?
- How can I adapt to our changing environment?
- What can I do to develop myself?
Lousy Management and Leadership Questions
- Why doesn’t the younger generation want to work hard?
- When am I going to find good people?
- Why aren’t my people motivated?
- Who made that mistake?
- Why don’t people come in on time?
- Who dropped the ball?
- When are they going to catch the vision?
- Who will care as much as I do?
- When will the market turn around?
- Who do I have to do everything myself?
Management and Leadership QBQs
- How can I be a more effective coach?
- What can I do to better understand each person on my team?
- How can I be a better leader?
- What can I do to show I care?
- How can I communicate better?
- How can I do a better job of delegating?
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people are persistent. They follow the career advice in Tweet 35 in Success Tweets. “Persistent people keep going; especially in the face of difficulties. Keep at it and you will accomplish your goals.” Successful people don’t search for blame. They ask what my friend John Miller calls “the question behind the question,” or a QBQ. They search for what they can do to overcome the problems and difficulties that are getting in the way of their career success. Questions behind the question focus on what you can do to solve problems and handle difficulties. They begin with the words “how” and “what”. They contain the word “I;” and they focus on action. Here is my best career success coach QBQ: “What can I do to create my own success?” Ask and answer this question and you’ll be well on your way to the life and career success you want and deserve.