Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Q&A Sessions Bring Home the Message to Cleaning Professionals

January 5, 2001
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Additional hands-on time may be what your carpet cleaning trainees ask for, but what they really want is more time in the question-and-answer session that follows.

The opportunity to participate in adult training programs in the cleaning industry for more than 30 years has been a rewarding learning experience for me. But there continues to be what I refer to as “unknowns” lingering in the background of training.

One of these is my observation of a student complaint that has been ever present over the years, and while it all too often may be justified, many times it is not justified. The complaint is, “We need more time for hands-on training.” I, as many diligent training facilitators, have made it a point to include substantial opportunity for hands-on activities, only to discover that most students don’t really want to participate in the actual physical process, rather they participate vigorously in the discussions that develop during these activities. In my experience, the secret to satisfactory hands-on activities seems to be in the questions that get asked and answered!

As questions arise during such hands-on sessions, experience has revealed that leaders who respond to a trainee’s questions with another question rather than a direct answer, then participants feel their hands-on opportunity was satisfactory.

Questions Stimulate Thinking!

As a trainer, it’s easy to get so involved in “telling” and failing to ask the questions that act as an “electric shock” to the learner’s brain. As soon as a question is asked, the majority of learners feel a compulsion to answer it. It’s easy to assume the expert role and give the answers, but that becomes “telling” or lecture style training. Don’t fall into that trap. Lecturing isn’t teaching and listening isn’t learning.

The following are situations where good questions can produce results.

Persuading People

    • Good questions tell the person that you are really concerned about their participation.

    • Questions are much more powerful than direct statements.

    Gathering Information

    • The most obvious use of questions is to gather information.

    • Questions are the manager’s greatest potential asset.

    Establish Professional Concepts

    • “Telling” does not open minds, nor does it get heard in many cases.

    • Embed professional concepts with well-phrased questions.

    Solving Problems

    • Questions can locate pressure points, weak spots and the employee’s needs in your company.

    • Involving employees is the most effective way to the best solutions.

    Reduce Mistakes

    • Learning to ask the right questions is the best way to be sure you are understood by your learners.


    People remember things they discover, learn and experience themselves. The only way you can help someone accept an idea or concept as their own is to ask them questions and let them give you the answer. This works very well during demonstration/hands-on opportunities. The opportunity to do this in your own location is virtually unlimited.

    I believe that trainees who ask for more hands-on really want the total experience of the demonstration, optional participation and the opportunity to ask questions and find answers from both the facilitator and their peers.


    How well do you use questions in your management efforts? Step back and look at your style of management. Do you do all or most of the talking when dealing with either customers or employees? The problem is, that even when we know better, our level of stress or the need to get our point across, compels us to talk instead of asking and listening.

    Managers who think and ask good questions before they act make fewer mistakes. Ask the right questions and you’ll stimulate thought and change!

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