Boost employee engagement by cultivating curiosity
Curiosity impacts business at every level. The more your employees are curious about customers and the people your organization serves – about how your business does its business — the more engaged they’ll become.
employees are curious about why your customers and clients do things, don’t do
things, ask for things, buy from us, work with us, use our services or another’s.
not just the job of sales or customer-facing operations – it’s everyone’s
responsibility. Curiosity is a naturally occurring human driver that, when properly
managed, can help us come out stronger post COVID-19.
like curiosity, is linked to cortisol, a hormone released under stressful
conditions. A little bit makes us
curious, too much we retreat. Finding the right balance is essential.
business leaders define current reality and communicate it to their
organization. People want to know – for better or worse.
a study done by the Pew Research Center, people were asked, “Do you feel better
knowing, even if it’s bad?” A full 85% said ‘yes.’
survey by Bain & Co. found a typical professional spends:
- 45% of the time in meetings
- 23% on emails
- 18% doing ‘unproductive’
- 14% on the work itself.
got to give
way past time to create the time and bandwidth for people to be curious. We
need to time to experiment, learn from what worked (and what didn’t) and try
again. But that will require change.
have the capacity to be curious we have to change and stop doing so many
things. One of the biggest challenges to encouraging curiosity is to set aside
the time to connect with others, learn, reflect on what worked – we have to
give back time.
we spend our days glued to Zoom calls, busy being busy, there’s no time to
think and be curious. We may be super busy but we’re not super productive. And burnout is right around the corner.
minutes to reflect
an old saying, “We never find time to do things right; we always find time to
do things twice.”
GOLD is a simple framework I created for reflective conversation that encourages curiosity in less than five minutes, ideal for todays’ “busyness.” GOLD stands for:
power lies in the questions that allow the other person to reflect on what they were trying to do (the goal) ,
what they achieved (the outcome), what they learned from that (creating
more curiosity) and what, with hindsight they would do differently (accountability). In less than five minutes we’ve created more
the ‘secret army’
organization has, what I call, a ‘secret army’ – people who, every day, are in
contact with customers or service users. They’re responding to queries,
resolving technical issues, providing care, chasing payments, delivering goods,
supporting the frontline. What they share – whatever their title – is their
connection with customers and clients.
important to help these people be more
curious and to serve (not sell) better. Reframe ‘selling’ for what it really
is, being curious enough to help people solve a problem and want to work with us,
buy from us and recommend us, we unleash more potential. In a post-COVID world,
referrals will be the lifeblood of business.
unleash the potential of your ‘secret army’ it pays to encourage employees to
want to discover more. What happened? Why? How can we do things differently
the tools and techniques that make it easier to be curious. Think of it as a
recipe book – can’t cook or won’t cook? Open the mind to trying to cook and
provide recipes that people can try out and make their own.
your secret army with a curiosity toolset and help them open up conversations
and discussions in ways that will lead to opportunities for growth. The more they use the tools the more skilled
– and more curious – they become.
these tools can be shared through webinars, Zoom or Teams in bite sized ways –
whether people are WFH or transitioning back.
long ago, a curious thing happened to me. A delegate on our Natural Business
Development program, who happens to be a self-acknowledged introvert, said he
felt much safer doing role playing on Zoom than he ever did face to face.
come?” I asked. He said the physical distance created by Zoom eased his sense
of inferiority or inadequacy. He felt safer, and that’s all he needed to come
out of his shell a bit more. It is likely we’ll find virtual training may be more
effective than we originally hoped.
the status quo
a curious mindset and a toolset in hand, we enable people to try new things,
give and receive feedback and embed the skills. As skill and confidence grow,
we achieve more, and we feel less stressed.
not to like?
Kouzes and Barry Posner authors of The Leadership Challenge demonstrated this
with their 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership.
of those – Enable Others To Act – is all about fostering collaboration and
building trust. Another, Challenge the
Process, shows the importance of experimenting, trying out new and different
ways of working and learning from the inevitable mistakes along the way. That’s curiosity in action.
pays when leaders challenge the process, encourage reflection and give feedback
cultivate more curiosity, we must create a context where we have the time and
capacity to be curious.
essential to recognize curiosity for the superpower it really is and actively reward
it when we see it. And we need to equip
our people with tools to make that a reality.