People are innately curious. Think back to when you were a child and constantly asking “why.”
“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why is the grass green?”
Asking “why” is a child’s way of learning and forming ideas of the world around him or her. The same is true of adult learners.
To increase employee engagement and cultivate an environment of critical thinkers and innovators, we have to encourage people to ask “why.” Helping employees understand the “why” creates a slew of benefits for companies. Let’s explore four of those benefits.
Increase employee confidence
Many organizations are made of not one single force, but many smaller working parts. In order for the organization to thrive, all parts must be synchronized. Effective and consistent communication is key.
Coaching and developing employees is one of the most important things a leader can do every day. When a leader can communicate effectively and consistently, employees feel confident in understanding how their work contributes to the company’s overall strategy. Employees who understand why they do what they do are more confident at work.
Cast vision and explain best practices
We all seek to live a life of purpose and all desire to do work that is meaningful and affects the greater good. When we can explain to team members that their work is important and is meaningful, regardless of how simple or small the task may seem, we receive a high level of encouragement from our teams. For example, if you have a team member who answers phones, they might think they don’t have any impact on the company’s revenue or growth, but when you explain to them that they are the first impression a client receives of your company, it shifts their mindset. They answer every call with the desire to make the best first impression possible.
When team members understand the driving force behind a project, they are more engaged in the success. Be transparent. Don’t just tell them to run that report; explain why they are doing it. What’s the bigger picture? How will this report be used by executive leadership to make important company decisions?
Avoid “Because I said so” at all costs. That answer might have worked for previous generations, but your employees want and deserve a valuable explanation. If you really desire peak performance, taking time to explain the “why” is a best practice. You’ll see productivity increase and team members take more accountability.
Drive critical thinking and innovation
Probing with questions fuels our thinking. Successful thinkers propel businesses onward and upward. How? They ask the right question: “Why?” It’s a simple question, but one that elicits a desire to learn more. Successful thinkers don’t settle for what is; rather, they always look for what could be. This is the type of behavior businesses should reward.
Explaining the “why” is important. But before you can reap the benefits, you must first identify why it is important to your business. Are you looking to increase employee engagement or do you value innovation? Whatever your reasoning might be, define it, understand it and share it.