Here’s a technique I’ll bet you’re not using often enough: holding one-on-one interviews with experts, leaders and other key stakeholders.
Interviews have long been used in journalism to gather information about an “idea, event or situation,” according to the Columbia Journalism School. And interviews are also a form of qualitative research to gain an individual’s perspective about an issue.
I often conduct interviews to:
- Spend quality time with an expert so I thoroughly understand a topic
- Ask for candid perspectives about an overall program or specific tactic/approach
- Generate ideas or solutions about a particular issue
- Determine how to support a stakeholder to help him/her achieve his/her objectives
If interviews just accomplished that much, they’d already be invaluable. But the hidden power of interviews is that they not only collect information, they also give you a forum for influencing.
This works in two ways:
- Interviews are, after all, a conversation. So during the interview, not only can you ask questions, you can respond to the interviewee’s comments. For example, if a leader says, “I’d like employees to participate more in all-hands meetings,” you can offer a suggestion right then—something like, “Have you ever considered changing the way we structure those meetings?”
- Even if you don’t get a chance to share ideas during the interview, you can use what you learned to make your case later. For example, a stakeholder might express the opinion that a certain project is moving too slowly. When you present your recommendations, you can refer to the assessment: “We’re building a streamlined process that will reduce the amount of time required.”
Interviews don’t take long—you only need 30 to 60 minutes—and they’re not difficult to conduct. (If you need advice, our Employee Focus Groups book has a whole chapter on interviews.) And, best of all, interviews increase your knowledge, make you look smart and provide you with a way to be more influential.
Conduct an interview today!