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Increase Your Team’s Curiosity

| March 11, 2014

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading is “Increase Your Team’s Curiosity” by Roger Schwarz, CEO of Roger Schwartz and Associates.  The essay appeared in the Harvard Business School blogs.

Schwarz suggests that at your next team meeting you track how many times you make a statement and the number of times you ask a question soliciting the views of a team member.  He suggests that if you are like most team leaders, you’re making more statements than asking questions, and that some of the questions really are not questions.

Research has shown that in effective teams members share their own views and ask each other to share their views.  Through a combination of transparency and curiosity, teams keep the discussion focused, get the information on the table, learn why different individuals see the issue differently, and create solutions that take all the perspectives into account.  As a result, these teams have stronger performance and better working relationships.

It’s not enough to just ask more questions.  Your questions need to exhibit a curiosity that enables you to learn what others are thinking.  When you are not truly curious, your questions tend to be rhetorical questions.  For example:

     • You really don’t think that will work, do you?

     • Why do you think I asked you yesterday to follow up on the project?

The first of these states the speaker’s view and the second asks you to guess the speaker’s reasoning.  Both demonstrate a lack of both curiosity and transparency.  While they may be a way to score, they can undermine your team’s working relationships and reduce its ability to make high-quality decisions.

So, check your questions and ask more questions that bring additional information onto the table and thereby create value.

Have a great week.  .  .  .    jim