When you are holding meetings with employees there is a really simple technique to follow to make sure you ask the right questions and get the right answers.

Step 1 – open question

When asking questions take TED with you. TED stands for Tell – Explain – Describe. When asking a question start with something like:

“Can you TELL me about the incident with Mr Jones last week”, or

“Can you EXPLAIN what you think happened”, or

“Please DESCRIBE what you saw when you entered the stock room on Tuesday afternoon”.

Step 2 – probing questions

Probing questions can be used to confirm facts after an open question. In the words of Rudyard Kipling they go a bit like this:

“I have six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. I call them What and Where and When. And How and Why and Who”

Use these questions after asking TED questions to confirm the facts of a something.

What time did you arrive on Tuesday?”, “Who else saw you in the stationary cupboard”, “When did you finish your break on Wednesday morning?”

Step 3 – summary

So you have asked asked your TED question and confirmed some facts with the probing ones. The next step is to repeat what the employee has told you a bit like this:

“Thank you for your comments, to confirm this is what you have told me…….”

When you do this you are confirming to the employee you have listened to what they have said and are recounting your notes to avoid confusion later.

Step 4 – confirmation

After completing step 3, you simply ask the following closed question:

“Is that correct?”

If the employee answers Yes, you have closed the topic off and can move on to your next area, if they say No, go back to the probing stage and ask:

Why is this incorrect?”


If you want good answers always plan and ask good questions.