As the year continues, author Robin Barone advocates incorporating greater curiosity into your professional life to achieve better outcomes
The ability to have a solid employee experience is based on a company culture that embraces curiosity in communications. Increasing the amount of curiosity with your engagement with colleagues and customers or clients leads to better solutions and outcomes as a result.
Professionals in cultures that embrace curiosity can have uncomfortable conversations that are assertive and not aggressive, anxious, or argumentative. Curious people are more confident, fearless, open, collaborative, and resilient. Curious company cultures will be those who innovate, grow, and thrive in the future. Curious company cultures are also more likely to engage and retail talent, employ professionals that are resourceful and collaborative, support a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and to be profitable.
Company cultures and businesses are changing rapidly, and the culture shift can easily lead to fear and miscommunication that reduce engagement, retention, and productivity. Curiosity is a life skill that can be nurtured and strengthened with knowledge and practice like a muscle. Here are 3 easy actions to add curiosity to your company culture for immediate impact:
1. Use curiosity to share with or learn from colleagues about lessons learned and their experiences from a place of vulnerability and growth for yourself, your team, your company, and career.
Curiosity supports a “learning culture” which creates safe spaces in a company or on a team where colleagues can be vulnerable and share their experiences from a place of feedback, improvement, and a continuous cycle of improvement for the collective future. It’s the equivalent of the coach of a sports team reviewing playback footage with team members and determining what plays were executed well, where the team’s strengths are, and what weaknesses the team needs to work on in practice.
The easiest way to deploy this is to create a habit at the regular team or department meeting to highlight a specific deal, transaction, or experience and allow the professionals involved to share the good and bad lessons learned about the industry, market, or client/customer. This discipline communicates that “what did I learn” is as valuable as a successful and quantifiable outcome.
2. Apply curiosity in your engagement with customers to understand their problems and pain points to create solution, services, products, and opportunities to serve them, strengthen your partnership with them, and create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Healthy relationships are grounded in trust and respect. The ability to connect with your colleagues in moments that are not grounded in a transaction or immediate financial benefit builds trust and respect to share, understand, and grow together. If you engage with customers and clients from a place of building a relationship based on trust and respect, your connection becomes one of value and provides opportunities to create mutually beneficial opportunities. By becoming a professional that sees and listens to your customers or clients, you become a problem solver to provide additional solutions, services, and products.
My favourite way to create mutually beneficial relationships is either through “kick the tire” or “KTT” conversations periodically or after the “business” of any meeting is conducted. Before Covid, these casual conversations over drinks on Tuesday nights, Thursday afternoon coffee breaks, or Friday lunch meetings where I invested time into my relationships. Now with Covid, these conversations occur over virtual meetings or calls that I schedule or check in quarterly; however, my favourite way to be of value is share an insight piece or tool tailored the person’s particular interests which demonstrates that I pay attention to the details.
Opening the door starts with small acts of kindness about the person’s life and expands as you become more comfortable to ask “what is going on”, “what are you struggling with”, or “are you working on next”. The ability for the person to respond from a place of honesty requires trust, and trust is built over time though a consistent demonstration of character.
3. Incorporate curiosity as a tool for approaching challenges, uncomfortable situations, and problems to create solutions from a place of opportunity.
When professionals apply curiosity into their collegial communications, their actions are constructive and build trust in their collective relationships. Curious team cultures foster open and honest communication which creates safe spaces to be vulnerable in sharing ideas, delivering feedback, and managing difficult conversations from an intention of achieving better outcomes.
The easiest and most effective way a leader or manager can incorporate curiosity is through nurturing safe and inclusive teams or company cultures. First of all and most often ignored, leaders or managers need to respect their employees and trust them as sources of support to get the job done. Secondly, leaders or managers need to provide the opportunity for employees to be seen and heard without retribution, bullying or judgment to prevent or eliminate fear in the team or company culture. Thirdly, when leaders or managers demonstrate transparency and open communication particularly around uncomfortable topics, they build trust with their employees which encourages collaboration and feedback from a place of improvement and moving forward together as a team. For in a safe and inclusive environment, colleagues are more engaged and productivity in their position.
Robin Barone is a curious and collaborative executive with experience in entrepreneurship, investment, and business development in small to large organisations who is passionate about building profitable businesses. She is the founder of Curiosity Conversations, a newsletter and workshop designed to nurture curiosity in busy people looking to achieve better outcomes in in their professional and personal lives.