I attended a briefing for new-joiners by the internal HR profession. The briefing is to both to give information and welcome them into the company. In one module, she introduced the company’s compensation and reward arrangement, and somehow she started by asking the audience, ‘Who is satisfied with your current reward package?’. Not surprisingly, the only response from the floor is silence….. and confused faces.
Whilst it is a good idea to use question to arouse interaction, the question itself is obviously bad. Let’s think in more details why:
Non-answerable – well, no one will say in front of the crowd to the HR people that he / she is not or is satisfied with the pay when he / she just joins the organization. The question just cannot arouse interaction;
Undesirable response – The HR profession definitely does not want to have someone answering ‘I am not happy with my pay’, which is possible response (if any response). Not only it is difficult to handle such a response, but also this will just ruin the party.
Creditability dropped – Sophisticated audience will see that this is a bad question. The HR profession’s creditability just dived right after asking this. (She did encounter challenging questions on other areas afterward)
Though it seems quite obvious that questions like this are very counter-productive to the effectiveness in communication, you will see speakers committing such mistakes from time to time. Sometimes, inappropriate words just come out of their months out of their plans. Why? I wonder say:
Preparation – Did you make the effort in advance to know the participants, the objective of the event, or even talk to those who have presented before?
Thinking on your foot – it is about sensing the atmosphere, event themes, and then saying sensible things. Experience counts here. Some just do it worse than the others.
I had a lot of sympathy towards this HR profession, and I tried to help by asking questions who are easy to answer in that session. I am sure that as she does more of this, she will get better.