Questions! Questions! Questions!

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Doing it Right
Doing it Wrong

Organisational Learning Method – Asking Questions

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Historically, questioning has been a successful and universal pedagogical approach used by educators to transfer knowledge. However, the learning value would depend on the effective use of questioning. Asking questions is part and parcel of learning at work as it helps people understand better but it also depends on how the questions were asked.  Employers and supervisors need to know how to ask good questions, as they are key to good learning and workplace relationships.

(Adapted from “Asking More Effective Questions” by William F. McComas and Linda Abraham, 2004)

The following video clips will demonstrate the negative and positive examples in the use of questions by a retail supervisor.


  1. Identify an area for asking questions at a work place.
  2. Ask questions to check for prior knowledge.
  3. Use a mixture of open and closed-ended questions.
  4. Ask open-ended questions to promote deeper understanding.
  5. Provide a supportive and safe environment to ask questions.

  1. Organisation / management
    • Promote an open learning culture by providing opportunities for staff to learn and grow.
    • Creating an environment that makes staff feel safe to ask questions.
  2. Workplace ‘trainer’
    • Be approachable such that employees feel well-supported and safe to ask questions.
    • Guide and structure employees learning to support their development.
    • Use more open ended questions to promote learning and understanding.
  3. Workplace ‘learner’
    • Ask specific questions on areas of concern.
    • Ask open ended questions where appropriate, on what can be done and what to avoid. Ask for examples when still in doubt.
    • Take notes/photos to help remember the guidance provided.