According to a recent survey by Francesca Gino of the Harvard Business School and highlighted in a recent LinkedIn blog here, “only 24% reported feeling curious in their jobs on a regular basis and 70% said they face barriers to asking more questions at work.” Balancing between drones and discoverers, this report on employee curiosity could shed light on retention strategies. Highlights of the article follow.
Hire the Curious
Natural versus trained curiosity? Either get results. The article states, “Although Francesca believes that curiosity can be developed, you can also hire workers who are naturally curious. This inquisitiveness usually becomes apparent during the interview process. Chuck says that a candidate’s curiosity is often what makes or breaks an interview for him — especially when it comes to the questions that a candidate asks at the end. “Do they ask a safe question, one they’ve likely rehearsed and written down in advance?” he says. “Or are they building on the conversation you just had? Do you literally feel like the candidate can make your company better because they’re pushing you and asking, ‘Why do we do it that way?’ or ‘Have you ever considered this?'”
Freedom to Inquire
Sometimes, curiosity needs fertile ground to flourish. According to the article, “Both Francesca and Chuck agreed that curiosity requires a certain amount of vulnerability: You need to feel comfortable asking questions — even those that might seem stupid — and reveal that you don’t know something about a subject. “I think the question,” Chuck says, “is how do you create enough of a safe space, where it’s actually healthy and encouraged to be curious again? Who is going to be the person in the room to ask either the most obvious question or the question that we’re all thinking about?” Chuck pointed out that virtual meetings have made it easier to create these safe spaces, particularly through the use of the chat and hand-raising functions. “They’re literally giving people the space to think, ‘I might want to ask a question here,'” he says.”
Leaders modeling curiosity can also get results. The article adds, “Leaders can encourage workers to be curious by being inquisitive themselves. Leaders often want to look invulnerable and in charge, so they may be afraid to ask questions that betray their ignorance about something. But Francesca’s research has shown that when workers and leaders demonstrate curiosity about others by asking questions, people tend to like them more and view them as more competent. Managers and executives can model this behavior by asking questions and listening to people’s answers, so others feel safe to do the same. “Leaders,” Chuck says, “have to admit that they don’t have all the answers and don’t know everything.” He adds that at Microsoft, leaders (including the CEO) have modeled this type of curiosity and willingness to learn. He calls this a “growth mindset,” a term made popular by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. “As leaders,” Chuck says, “we need to give each other permission to seek an alternative way of thinking about things. We can change from ‘I’m just communicating a decision’ to being truly interested in the thoughts of everyone in the room, and making sure that people are asking questions in a way that brings out curiosity.”
Inspiring curiosity in the workplace can lead to innovation and employee investment. How does your business inspire employees to find fulfillment?
Trent Lyons is a Technical Recruitment Lead at Business Centric Technology. If you are interested in learning more about how to get the best IT talent in the Dallas metroplex, contact Trent, who specializes in recruiting IT talent in Dallas, Ft. Worth, and North Texas. If you are looking for a rewarding career, contact us today.