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How to Bolster Curiosity in the Workplace

The first part of this two-part blog series discussed the various benefits of curiosity in the workplace. These were highlighted in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. The second part of the series will highlight five strategies that can be used to foster curiosity in the workplace as opposed to stifling it. 

These tips can be found below:

  • Hire for curiosity. Ask interview questions that tap into curiosity. Ask candidates about their interests outside of work. Also, companies can administer curiosity assessments that tap into whether people explore things they don’t know, analyze data to uncover new ideas, read beyond their field, have diverse interests outside of work, and are excited by learning opportunities.
  • Model inquisitiveness. Leaders can facilitate curiosity in their companies by modeling inquisitiveness themselves. Leaders can demonstrate curiosity about others by asking questions. Asking questions promotes meaningful connections and more creative outcomes. Leaders can also model curiosity by acknowledging that they don’t always know the answer. This shows employees that it’s acceptable to be guided by curiosity. Finally, leaders can model curiosity by approaching the unknown with inquisitiveness rather than judgment.
  • Emphasize learning goals. Research has demonstrated that framing work around learning goals (i.e., developing competence, acquiring skills, mastering new situations, etc.) rather than performance goals (i.e., impressing others, hitting targets, etc.) boosts motivation. When motivated by learning goals, individuals gain more diverse skills, do better work, engage in better problem-solving, and receive higher ratings during trainings. Leaders can emphasize learning goals by communicating the importance of learning and rewarding people for learning, rather than just performance. Leaders can also stress the value of learning by reacting positively to less-than-polished ideas that could lead to better ones. This idea encourages individuals to be more curious, to engage in active listening, and to respect others’ ideas. This technique allows all ideas to be explored. It demonstrates that learning is a crucial goal, even if it doesn’t always lead to success. 
  • Let employees explore and broaden their interests.Leaders can also facilitate curiosity by providing time and resources for employees to explore their interests. They could provide opportunities for employees to travel to new locations. When individuals get an opportunity to expand their interests, they not only remain curious but also become more confident about their accomplishments and ultimately, they perform better at work. These experiences can help them to gain newer perspectives. Leaders can also facilitate curiosity by encouraging employees to connect to other departments and teams. Doing so can help employees be more curious about their colleagues’ work. Leaders can also carefully design their teams and workspaces to encourage collaboration and broaden networks.
  • Have “Why?” “What if…?” and “How might we…?” days. Leaders can help to facilitate employee curiosity by putting aside time for them to ask such questions about the organization’s goals and plans. In doing so, leaders can also teach employees how to ask good questions.