Questioning Status-Quo Thinking

Post written by

Dr. Diane Hamilton

At Tonerra, we help organizations create innovative strategies to improve behaviors that impact performance. http://drdianehamilton.com

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Many organizations want independent learning-agile employees who learn from experience, figure out new and different problems without much help and can work well in team-based situations. That requires curious employees who provide solutions that go against status-quo thinking.

To ensure their ideas receive proper consideration, employees must recognize that other people’s perceptions of their solutions might differ. Self-analysis can be a critical part of developing curiosity and perception. Once employees have strong self-awareness, they can develop other key emotional intelligence traits, such as empathy, which helps with accepting other people’s differences, leading to improved teamwork.

To desire to solve problems, it begins with developing curiosity. Why do some employees lack that essential desire to explore? Through research I've done, I've identified four factors that influence curiosity. These include fear, assumptions (the voice in our head), technology and environment. If we can pinpoint the issues that stop people from asking questions, we can release their desire for exploration.

To determine if employees are held back from exploring curiosity, leaders can give curiosity assessments. Beyond that, there are many clues that employees may be buying into status-quo thinking. Leaders should recognize that if everyone is always in agreement, that is a big sign that employees do not feel comfortable asking questions or going beyond status-quo thinking. Leaders often surround themselves with people who agree with them, and that can limit employees’ curiosity-based development.

As organizations expand globally, employees interact with more diverse cultures. Even within a small organization, it is important to recognize everyone’s abilities and differences. Any two employees given the same job responsibility might have a different perception of how challenging that task is. What might seem perfectly reasonable and an exciting challenge to one employee might overwhelm another who, from an outside perspective, is equally trained. The reality is that our perception and desire to be curious can impact our abilities at work. Effective leaders recognize and develop employees who might let their lack of curiosity or perception of a challenging situation stop them from developing their learning agility. It is essential to understand the impact of curiosity and perception on what employees are willing to tackle.

To become learning agile, it requires us to recognize that we all have different perceptions of things. Our perceptions come from our senses, our gut feelings, our cultural experiences and everything we do and see in our lives. It can be frustrating for some people to accept that others perceive things in different ways. Consider the Internet sensation of the blue-and-black or white-and-gold dress. For those who saw white and gold, it was sometimes inconceivable to believe that someone else could see blue and black, and vice versa. Some optical illusions — like the brick wall illusion — can be enlightening examples of how much our senses miss things. For some, it seems inconceivable that the picture concealed anything until the item was pointed out, and then it is almost impossible not to see it. Why is this important to understand? Because we don’t know what we don’t know until it is pointed out to us, and many of us assume we know the whole picture.

To coach people, it is crucial to recognize that there is more to consider than just the physical senses. Perception involves evaluation, prediction, interpretation and correlation to make conclusions. Things that impact that process include culture, critical thinking, spiritual or religious beliefs, logic and a host of other issues that can be environmentally influenced. The first step is to open a dialogue about how we all perceive things in unique ways. Assessments can be useful to demonstrate cultural quotients.

Leaders can promote discussions with employees about the value of emotional intelligence, especially empathy, to assist with understanding other people’s perceptions to understand their solutions and issues from their vantage point. Once employees understand why people have specific ways of interacting and coming up with unique ways of doing things, it is easier for everyone to recognize there is value in unique perspectives. Through developing employees’ emotional intelligence, curiosity and ability to recognize individual perceptions, leaders create the foundation for learning-agile employees who can be critical for organizational success.

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Many organizations want independent learning-agile employees who learn from experience, figure out new and different problems without much help and can work well in team-based situations. That requires curious employees who provide solutions that go against status-quo thinking.

To ensure their ideas receive proper consideration, employees must recognize that other people’s perceptions of their solutions might differ. Self-analysis can be a critical part of developing curiosity and perception. Once employees have strong self-awareness, they can develop other key emotional intelligence traits, such as empathy, which helps with accepting other people’s differences, leading to improved teamwork.

To desire to solve problems, it begins with developing curiosity. Why do some employees lack that essential desire to explore? Through research I've done, I've identified four factors that influence curiosity. These include fear, assumptions (the voice in our head), technology and environment. If we can pinpoint the issues that stop people from asking questions, we can release their desire for exploration.

To determine if employees are held back from exploring curiosity, leaders can give curiosity assessments. Beyond that, there are many clues that employees may be buying into status-quo thinking. Leaders should recognize that if everyone is always in agreement, that is a big sign that employees do not feel comfortable asking questions or going beyond status-quo thinking. Leaders often surround themselves with people who agree with them, and that can limit employees’ curiosity-based development.

As organizations expand globally, employees interact with more diverse cultures. Even within a small organization, it is important to recognize everyone’s abilities and differences. Any two employees given the same job responsibility might have a different perception of how challenging that task is. What might seem perfectly reasonable and an exciting challenge to one employee might overwhelm another who, from an outside perspective, is equally trained. The reality is that our perception and desire to be curious can impact our abilities at work. Effective leaders recognize and develop employees who might let their lack of curiosity or perception of a challenging situation stop them from developing their learning agility. It is essential to understand the impact of curiosity and perception on what employees are willing to tackle.

To become learning agile, it requires us to recognize that we all have different perceptions of things. Our perceptions come from our senses, our gut feelings, our cultural experiences and everything we do and see in our lives. It can be frustrating for some people to accept that others perceive things in different ways. Consider the Internet sensation of the blue-and-black or white-and-gold dress. For those who saw white and gold, it was sometimes inconceivable to believe that someone else could see blue and black, and vice versa. Some optical illusions — like the brick wall illusion — can be enlightening examples of how much our senses miss things. For some, it seems inconceivable that the picture concealed anything until the item was pointed out, and then it is almost impossible not to see it. Why is this important to understand? Because we don’t know what we don’t know until it is pointed out to us, and many of us assume we know the whole picture.

To coach people, it is crucial to recognize that there is more to consider than just the physical senses. Perception involves evaluation, prediction, interpretation and correlation to make conclusions. Things that impact that process include culture, critical thinking, spiritual or religious beliefs, logic and a host of other issues that can be environmentally influenced. The first step is to open a dialogue about how we all perceive things in unique ways. Assessments can be useful to demonstrate cultural quotients.

Leaders can promote discussions with employees about the value of emotional intelligence, especially empathy, to assist with understanding other people’s perceptions to understand their solutions and issues from their vantage point. Once employees understand why people have specific ways of interacting and coming up with unique ways of doing things, it is easier for everyone to recognize there is value in unique perspectives. Through developing employees’ emotional intelligence, curiosity and ability to recognize individual perceptions, leaders create the foundation for learning-agile employees who can be critical for organizational success.

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

At Tonerra, we help organizations create innovative strategies to improve behaviors that impact performance. http://drdianehamilton.com...

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading business coaches and career coaches. Find out if you qualify at forbescoachesc...