Effective Questioning and Challenge

Effective Questioning &
Challenge – developing
the right skills to get your
views across
The Council of Governors:
• Holds board of directors to account (primarily
through the NEDs)for the performance of the
• Represents the interests of patients, staff,
public, service users, carers and other local
organisations involved in the running of the
foundation trust
• Helps shape the future direction of the
Why do we ask them?
Why don’t we ask them?
How do we ask them?
Some of the reasons why we ask questions:
• To help clarify
• To evaluate what’s happening
• To broaden debate
• To cause deeper thought
• To create time and space to stand back
• To create expectation
• To encourage high standards
Some of the things that stop us:
• Bad experience with asking or answering questions
• Lack of skills in asking or answering questions
• Lack of experience or opportunities
• Lack of training
• Lack of mentoring
• Perceived lack of knowledge
• Corporate cultures and working environments that
discourage questions
Types of questions:
• Open – expansive, promote reflection,
probing, clarifying, exploratory
• Closed – can be used to limit debate and
make decisions, to find out specific
information, to identify preferences, to
bring something to closure and move
Ways of asking questions:
• Passive - when we’re not confident in our
• Aggressive – when we feel frustrated or
feel it’s the only way to make ourselves
• Assertive – based on need, rationale, logic
I keep six honest serving men,
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and
And How and Where and Who.
Rudyard Kipling
Group exercise
As a group, look at the Quality Dashboard and narrative for Q3
(on your tables) and come up with some questions you’d want
to ask and how you would ask them. Maybe think about:
•An assumption you want to question
•Something that is not clear
•Something you want to challenge
•Something that is missing that you feel should be there
•Are your questions open or closed?
•Are they assertive, passive, aggressive?
•Will they help you get the answers you need?
Tips for asking your questions and getting your
views across:
Prepare beforehand
Keep it succinct
Build on response to the previous question
Respect others
Be assertive (not too passive, not aggressive)
Be constructive and supportive
Be willing to reflect, develop and learn
Remember you are part of a team – you are doing it together
For you
Next Steps:
• Identify one thing that you will now do differently that will
help you perform your role as a governor
• Complete our short survey about the session, so that we can
evaluate its usefulness
For us
• We will send you a tips sheet and examples of some good
questions including those we have come to today
• We will review the feedback you give us and decide whether
to include this session (or similar) in future programmes
“The fool wonders, The
wise man asks.”
Benjamin Disraeli

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