Curiosity is a key element in the evolution of both people and businesses. Often, however, the structures we surround ourselves with don’t lend themselves to exploring new ideas or new ways of doing things. Many of us cling to processes that have worked in the past — and we depend on them to work for us in the future.
Clinging to “that’s the way it’s always been done” mindset is a sure-fire path to inefficiency, irrelevance and, eventually, the demise of our organization. The world doesn’t stand still for anyone — including us — and healthy curiosity is key to maintaining and strengthening our place in that world.
Your Staff’s Curiosity
There will always be team members who are content to clock in, do their job and clock back out, but these aren’t the employees who will help you build up your shop for the future. There are also team members who aren’t afraid to ask questions. They see where things could be done better. They keep an eye out for new technology or new methods of performing their tasks. These are the people you want to encourage.
But are you encouraging them? Do you have an open-door policy for fresh ideas or discussions? Do your team members know they’ll be heard, or will they hear yet another round of “That’s not the way it’s always been done here” and be sent back into the trenches? It doesn’t take much to kill an employee’s drive to improve. After one or two attempts at innovation get shot down, they’ll get the message loud and clear. The truly inspired and driven will start looking elsewhere, leaving you with those who are content to, yes, do it the way it’s always been done.
Your Leadership’s Curiosity
The question “Why?” is one of the most valuable words we can ever learn — so valuable, in fact, it’s one of the first words we learn. Along the way, though, we learn to stop asking why so much — for fear of looking like we don’t know what we think we should — and sometimes we forget about it entirely.
As a leader, it’s important to relearn that word. Go around and re-examine the processes in your shop and ask this question: “Why do we do it this way?” Sometimes, it’s because it really is the best way to accomplish a task. Other times, however, it might just “be the way it’s always been done.” Is there a better way? Is there a way that could be quicker or more pleasant for the customer? Are your team members using their time in the most efficient way? Do they have talents that are going unused?
Asking questions and finding honest answers helps us build our business and face the future. Don’t be afraid of some healthy curiosity and let your staff know they’ll be heard when they ask their own questions.