You Doing?

I recently had the joy of attending my niece's Little Mermaid birthday party. She turned three. I only get to see her a couple of times a year, so I notice her growth and development fairly clearly. This time, I noticed she asks two questions consistently: You doing? and Why?

You doing? is short for "What are you doing?" That's her introduction filled with curiosity and is quickly followed up with more curiosity: Why?

You doing? I'm eating. Why? Because I'm hungry.

You doing? I'm playing soccer. Why? Because it's fun.

You doing? I'm talking to your mother. Why? Because I haven't seen her in a while, and I want to hear what she's been doing.

And of course, sometimes those are followed up with additional "why's." Her pattern is such a simple, elegant approach to management. Managers should check in with their teams regularly to learn what they are doing and why, not from a controlling perspective, but from pure curiosity. Then they can offer feedback or challenges, but understanding should come first.