I was cooking in the kitchen and my 2.5 year old daughter, Mia, is climbing all over me saying “I want to see! I want to see!” At first I tell her she can’t because it’s too hot. She persists- “I want to see! Mia want to see!”. Then I realize I should let her see. I set up a chair for her to stand on so she can see, and I start explaining what I’m doing.
Reflecting on this later on, I think: It’s so beautiful and pure– when Mia wants something, she just asks! I then think about work and realize that this is another one of those skills that most people are born with and then lose as we grow older.
How often do you have a question about what’s going on at work, but are hesitant to ask? How often do you “want to see” what’s going on but won’t ask?
As a manager, I have so many problems to solve and decisions to make. I have meetings and discussions that I’m exposed to that my team members are not, and vice versa. I’m sure there are times when people have questions about a decision I made or just “want to see” what’s going on. But very few people actually ask.
As a manager and executive, I welcome those questions. If someone has a question or a suggestion, I would love to hear it. I always have a running list of problems I’m trying to solve, it’s possible that a question or suggestion would spark a solution to one of those problems or bring up an entirely new opportunity in itself. Or, maybe someone will ask a question that I can’t answer for various reasons, but that’s simple enough too because I can just say that I can’t share that right now, and I still would have learned that person is interested in that topic.
One more note- You can ask a question to a manager or executive who more than one level away from you in your management chain or outside your management chain. If you have a question, you don’t have to ask your manager if you can ask. It’s just a question, for goodness sake!
In summary, my advice is that we all can benefit by being more like Mia and saying “I want to see” when we are curious. Please be a bit more tactful and a bit more patient when you ask, but overall, I have to say she is onto something!
When you’re at work, do you have times that you are hesitant or afraid to ask questions? Do you feel like you need to ask for permission to ask a question? What advice do you have for others on this?