The Curious Employee

Ask anyone at 10Eighty and they’ll tell you that the trait we’d probably put the top of our list is curiosity. The curious employee is likely to be a natural learner, eager for knowledge and new experiences, keen to grow and develop in their role. These are people willing to explore new perspectives and new ways of doing things, not hidebound by ‘the way things are’ or accepted routines.

Curiosity can be defined as the recognition, pursuit, and intense desire to explore novel, challenging, and uncertain events. When curious, we are fully aware and receptive to whatever exists and might happen in the present moment. Curiosity motivates people to act and think in new ways and investigate, be immersed, and learn about whatever is the immediate interesting target of their attention (Kashdan & Silvia, 2009).

A willingness to learn and to take risks is vital in the modern workplace; curiosity drives creativity and innovation. In a volatile and competitive environment, we need employees who learn fast and leaders need to focus on inspiring learning in a dynamic way. It’s not good enough to have people just waiting for the next training course, we need people hungry to learn and share what they are discovering so that everyone in the business learns together.

Challenge and change

A curious employee who wants to learn will seek out the resources that suit their learning style and other preferences. Encouraging curiosity and the courage to find and explore new ways of working and serving customers will open up new possibilities and challenge assumptions, enabling the team to see things with fresh eyes.

We think it’s important to make organizations more human in terms of interaction and relationships. HR needs to unlearn organizational design and think about skills in a networked culture that enables sharing and learning.

In a survey by Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, more than 3,000 employees some 92% of respondents credited curious people with bringing new ideas into teams and organizations and viewed curiosity as a catalyst for job satisfaction, motivation, innovation, and high performance.

Creativity and collaboration

Research also shows that curiosity is associated with less aggressive reactions to perceived triggers, (Kashdan, T.B. et al 2013), improved conflict resolution skills, enhanced motivation to put oneself in one another’s shoes, less attachment to one’s own ideas, and increased interest in others’ ideas, (Gino, F. 2018).

HR and L&D professionals know that learning is not about acquiring and using information just to pass a course or gain a qualification, nor is it about training in new skillsets for career progression. Real learning occurs when we change how we think and is predicated on curiosity, which we need to develop in a workplace that depends on collaboration and innovation in finding new ideas and solutions.

The economy needs people who are agile and quick to respond in the absence of certainty or predictability, and managers who can navigate complexity and ambiguity so as to conjure up creative strategies and then communicate and implement them in inspirational ways.

Celebrate curiosity

Our knowledge-based economy has a huge appetite for new ideas and innovation so celebrate the curious thinker: give them a platform to share and collaborate in exploring the new, off-the-wall ideas and outside of the box thinking and enable all team members to learn from the curious approach.

At 10Eighty we celebrate curiosity, personal development and commitment to lifelong learning; curiosity is an essential characteristic of a creative person. Behavioral expert Dr. Diane Hamilton says: “Curiosity is the spark that ignites motivation, which impacts engagement, innovation, and productivity”. In the current environment, we need that spark.

By Liz Sebag-Montefiore

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a Co-Founder and Director of 10Eighty. With over 10yrs of business experience, I have an extensive and impressive blue chip client base. I have worked with numerous firms working in partnership with the client to understand their needs.

My current role involves managing relationships with clients, developing new business, and coaching individuals in their career. I really enjoy meeting new people and have strong client relationship and networking skills.