The Curious Employee

Why??

Curiosity

I could not resist starting a blog on curiosity with the word “why.”

It is the universal word for the curious.  While there are other words for the curious, the word “why” it the first word used by everyone, probably starting at age 2.  And most parents become tired of this word soon after that.

Employment

Several recent articles on employee interview techniques have acknowledged the importance of having curious employees by focusing on techniques to determine the level of curiosity in potential employees.

Curious employees tend to be better employees because:

  1. A curious person is a natural learner. Curious people seek knowledge both through conversations and through research.  They are curious about everything and tend to discover answers on their own.
  2. Curious people have a natural initiative. They are curious, so they do not need to be asked or required to find answers. They do not need an overseer to tell them to research a particular subject; their curiosity will drive them to seek the correct information.
  3. The curious are innovators. Since innovation drives much of our business, having curious staff members who enjoy innovation is an asset.  Innovation is a natural extension of many curious people.  As they work to find answers, they also innovate solutions.
  4. Curious people are problem solvers. In business, we deal with many unknowns and ambiguity. Problem-solving is taking a situation with multiple unknowns and still finding a solution to the problem without having to have answers to every question.

Curious employees do present two challenges to employers. First, as with the small child, at some point, there are not answers to every “why” question.  Continuing to chase every question in search of an answer will quickly lead the curious off the project path and into issues and topics that are not relevant to the business.

Second, at some point, the project manager needs to pick a solution and move on.  In my business, it is possible to continue to research and refine every design.  But sooner or later you, run out of budget, time or other resources.

The Bible

The Bible has a particular insight on the curious. Proverbs 3:13-18 says.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,

 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.

 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.

 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.

 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.

What must be matched with curiosity is wisdom.

What good is it to continually ask questions and do research and not know if you have stumbled across the right answer or not? Curiosity alone is valueless.  Wisdom, as in the Bible passage, is priceless.

James 1:5 provides additional insight.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

We need employees who are naturally curious.  We also need employees who have wisdom to match their curiosity.  Understanding and learning wisdom is available to all from the Bible.

Invest in your curious employees and make curiosity a core characteristic when searching for new employees.