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The Power of Curiosity

December 12, 2023

Curiosity in the Workplace

By John Hayes

During the course of this year, my path has been crossed by people invoking the word curiosity. In July, I had the pleasure of hearing Casey Jacox speak to my team and utilize that word to enhance knowledge in a business setting. Coupling that with binge-watching the fabulous Ted Lasso, one of the most memorable scenes in the series is Ted playing darts in a bar against his nemesis, Rupert. Rupert believes Ted is a novice dart player, but Ted explains that if he had just been curious, he would’ve learned that Ted played darts as a child every Sunday with his father, before nailing two triple 20’s and a bullseye.

I then found myself in conversations with friends, peers, and colleagues and noticed that in many instances, a little bit of curiosity would have eliminated difficult situations and made life somewhat easier. Being curious goes hand in hand with asking questions. I always find myself asking questions, sometimes to a fault. Why do you ask that? In what sense? I don’t understand, could you explain further? I do it in my personal life and my professional life and my family and friends can attest to that! It’s who I am and probably why most of my professional career has centered around asking questions, showing interest, and being curious enough to understand why or how someone may want or require something.

As most companies power through less-than-ideal business conditions and move from on-site to remote and back to a hybrid working situation, regenerating the trait of curiosity will help them become more creative.  In the workplace, individuals driven by curiosity are more likely to seek out new challenges, explore innovative solutions, and continuously expand their skill sets. All too many times, we are focused on what we want to hear and miss the opportunity to understand and pry into the “whys” and “hows” of things.

When we are curious, we become more creative. Curiosity enables us to think outside the box and question why someone may want to leave their existing role or why a customer wants to speak with us in the first place. Everyone has a reason, and our job is to be curious enough to extract that information through questions. This is problem-solving at the highest level and allows for collaboration between recruiter and candidate or sales and customer.

We want to make informed decisions by understanding all the factors influencing a decision. Inquisitive individuals are more likely to gather comprehensive information, consider multiple viewpoints, and weigh the pros and cons before deciding. This approach should minimize the risk of poor judgment and help to ensure the quality of the decision-making process.

A workplace that values curiosity promotes a culture of continuous learning. Curious individuals are eager to acquire new skills, stay updated on industry trends, and invest time in professional development. As a result, the organization becomes a hub of knowledge where employees are not just fulfilling their roles but actively seeking opportunities to expand their expertise.

Creating a team of curious people is sometimes easier said than done.  A few ideas to help people understand the power of curiosity are:

  1. Encourage questions within your teams. Look for team members to question the norms, not to be combative but to promote creativity and efficiency.
  2. Promote collaboration between teams, divisions, or individuals that may not normally work together or on the same projects.
  3. Recognize, celebrate, and reward curious behavior. This not only motivates individuals but also signals to the entire workforce that curiosity is a trait worth cultivating.

As we have all experienced over the past three years, change is both inevitable and constant. By creating a culture that values and encourages curiosity, we all become more knowledgeable, well-rounded, and creative in our processes. I’ve often heard the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat,” but I’d prefer to believe that curiosity will open the door to consistent and sustained success in the workplace.

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