Professional Curosity and Success: The Benefits of Being Curious at Work
“They” say that curiosity is a sign of cerebral intelligence. I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that healthy, professional curiosity helps you do your job better. This article outlines 15 potential areas of focus for curiosity at work. As you read them, see where you already express reasonable curiosity and where you could benefit from starting to explore and express it.
“They” say that curiosity is a sign of cerebral intelligence. I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that healthy, professional curiosity helps you do your job better. When you are curious, you generally end up gaining more knowledge about a situation, relationship, event, process, or plan. This information can be very useful. It can position you to see things comprehensively, understand circumstantial background, alter your judgments, and make better decisions. Curiosity motivates you to explore something on a deeper level. And when you do that, you serve both yourself and your workplace more effectively.
If you are not curious, you tend to accept life at face value. This approach causes you to miss, ignore, or gloss over essential facts, factors, and insights you need in order to perform optimally on the job. It’s safer not be curious, you know. Life seems simpler, easier, and less stressful. But as an adult professional it is your duty to learn, investigate, uncover, examine, detect, reveal, and discern all kinds of things in your world. In other words, being curious is really your responsibility rather than an option.
Take a look at the following 15 potential areas of focus for curiosity at work. As you read them, see where you already express reasonable curiosity and where you could benefit from starting to explore and express it.
1.Your physical environment: Do you ever think about how you could enhance your personal work space to increase your comfort there? Do you have ideas for decreasing the noise level or ensuring people’s general safety?
2.Your professional image and reputation: Do you wonder how others perceive you? Have you considered different strategies for obtaining this information?
3.Employee performance: Do you ask your staff about their personal and professional growth goals? When you have a problem employee, do you probe the reasons for his inappropriate behavior or lack of project completion?
4.Processes and procedures: Do you question the rationale behind them? Do you examine their purpose and relevance to present day work?
5.Other people’s feelings and thoughts: Do you take time to find out why someone feels a certain way about a particular issue or decision? Do you invite her to share her thoughts about how a problem could be resolved? Do you ask others to explain why they think or feel the way they do?
6.The bigger picture: Do you stop to consider how each of your tasks and activities fits into the larger organizational picture? If you’re unclear about what that bigger picture is, do you bother to ask?
7.The sale-ability of a potential new product or service: Do you research the market? Do you explore client/customer interest in what you are planning?
8.Unspoken rules and your workplace culture: Could you describe the culture in a single sentence? Could you list three to five unspoken rules? Are you taking steps to learn these rules if you have no idea what they are?
9.Approaches to various projects: Do you look at a project from different angles? To what extent do you analyze the pros and cons of various approaches?
10.Risk management: Do you know how you would handle a major computer crash, the death of a key employee, a low ROI on a brand new product? Do you know if your company has a formal risk management plan? Have you asked to see it?
11.Motivators for employees: Do you proactively ask each of your employees about what specifically motivates them to come to work each day? What motivates them to try harder? What motivates them to exceed expectations?
12.Consequences to your words and actions: Do you have a sense about how your verbal communication and actions “land” with others? Do you periodically conduct mini check-ins with folks to see where you may need to adjust your language or behavior?
13.Professional development: Do you assess areas for growth in both yourself and your staff? Do you investigate real time and online opportunities for filling those skill gaps?
14.Highly successful people: Do you study them to learn from them? Do you invest time in figuring out how you can implement some of their best strategies to reach the next level in your job and career?
15.Your future within your organization: Do you know what your professional future looks like within the organization you currently work for? Do you wonder how can you get clues or even strong indicators about it?
Get curious about any or all of the above areas and watch everything change: your relationships, experiences, productivity, and job satisfaction. Believe me: you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that come your way!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sylvia Hepler, Owner and President of Launching Lives, LLC, is an executive coach based in South Central PA. Her ideal clients are persons in management positions: corporate, nonprofit, and business owners. Her company mission is to support executives as they solve problems, develop leadership skills, and increase balance in their lives. Sylvia offers three programs, any of which may overlap depending on client need: First Class Management Program; Change, Loss, and Grief Program; and Career Development Program. Her professional background includes: extensive nonprofit management/leadership, public speaking, business writing, retail sales, and teaching.