Why is the sky blue? Why is the sun hot? Why do you have to go to work today?
I remember all those two-year-old why questions that my boys regularly asked me. As much as all those questions could be annoying because I didn’t always know the answer, I loved that they were inquisitive and wanted to learn.
Somewhere along with way, why becomes a question we don’t ask anymore. It starts to feel like we are challenging authority or making it look like we have better ideas. It became taboo to ask why at work when in reality, it is one of the most important questions to ask.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”s13Q4″ via=”yes” ]Why is one of the most important questions to ask[/ctt]
In my Strategic Partner workshops, I’ve been sharing the importance of asking a lot of questions. Not only to gain understanding (which is important) but to also show you understand the nuances and intricacies of the business you are part of. When you ask why you are not challenging what is happening, nor are you pushing back.
If we don’t understand the thinking behind the scenes, we may not be as efficient as we could be. We also may have an opinion from our perspective that may be helpful. When we ask, “Why are we doing this?” or “Why are we waiting on this?” or even “Why do we need this?” we get others to think from a different perspective as well.
Consider the following: You have a monthly report that you need to complete for your executive. This report indicates all the personal time off booked each month, along with sick days called in. You calculate that there should be 20,000 hours of work each month completed (for all employees). In all the years you’ve been creating this report, you’ve never had 20,000 hours of work completed (vacation and sick days for employees always happen).
You ask your executive why they need this report. What are they looking for? What are they hoping to see? What do they do with this information? Why is it important that you complete it monthly vs. quarterly?
I’m willing to bet the answers you get will surprise you. Potentially, you may cause them to rethink why they need the report, too, and perhaps they may realize that a quarterly version of the report is just as effective. We can all agree that we often want things “because they have always been there.” Maybe this report isn’t that important after all, or perhaps it is far more important than you realized, and you can easily adjust the information you provide to make it even more useful for your executive.
When asking why, clarify that you are not challenging their decisions but seeking to understand the behind-the-scenes thinking that most people ignore. It isn’t about the justification for a decision; it is about understanding how that decision came to be.
By understanding the why behind the decisions, the actions, the reports, the thinking at work, you can easily set yourself up to add value. When we don’t understand why we are doing things or the thinking behind what we are doing, it becomes just a task that is not motivating or inspirational to us.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”02cjy” via=”yes” ]When we understand the why, we are in a much better position to do something with that information and make it even more valuable.[/ctt]
When we understand the why, we are in a much better position to do something with that information and make it even more valuable.
Why are you doing what you are doing today?