The Best Question Ever

dining service

You do not have, because you do not ask.  -Bible, James 4:2

We have all had the experience. After a meal, the restaurant manager walks up to our table and asks, "How was your dinner?" The response is almost always the same: "Fine. Just fine"—even if it was not. The manager walks away thinking there are no problems, and the guest never returns.

The manager asked the wrong question. What she should have asked is the best question ever:

"What is the one thing we could have done better?"

If the guest responds "Nothing. There was not one thing you could have done better," then you know you have a completely satisfied customer who will likely return and will probably recommend your restaurant. Often, though, a guest will mention something to improve: "The valet was not there when I dropped off the car." "The soup was too salty." "The service is slow." These comments are very useful and highly actionable.

Notice the careful wording: "What is the one thing we could have done better?" You ask for "one thing" not "anything." This requires the guest to prioritize the most important change they would like, and also informs that guest that they don't have to come up with a laundry list of issues. "We could have done" focuses the guest on an actionable item rather than an unattainable wish.

The same question can be used on a personal level to improve your leadership. You should constantly ask your employees, peers and superiors the question, "What is the one thing that I can do better?" You will get great ideas, and by acting on them, you can dramatically improve your performance and your team's execution.

Surpassing leaders constantly seek improvement for themselves and their teams. By asking the best question ever, these leaders learn about their opportunities, and continuously advance and excel.

Action Points
• Ask the best question ever, "What is the one thing that I/we can do better?"
• Teach your people to ask the question.
• Record and follow up on the response.

Strong, actionable feedback and significantly improved performance

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