Millennials are starting to move into management roles in business.
But despite moving up the ranks, it appears that younger employees are struggling to find their voice to speak up when it comes to strategic decision making.
A recent report by SurveyMonkey found that close to a third (31%) of next generation leaders say their management either doesn’t encourage or even actively discourages asking questions.
Along with that, the fear of looking stupid and the fear of others’ reactions are listed as the biggest barriers to asking questions at work (29% and 25% respectively).
In order for Millennials to feel confident in asking questions, organisations need to work hard to create a more transparent and inclusive culture.
SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie recently discussed this at the 2017 Web Summit, and provided these tips on how a company can foster a culture of curiosity.
1. Make questions and curiosity central to your daily work and the company culture
Create an environment of transparency where people can get genuine answers and all kinds of questions are valued — this is especially important for the next generation of leaders. This commitment to curiosity can start… [with] meetings that focus on questions rather than management monologues, and also find a reflection in workplace policies, employee experience and even your office design.
2. Establish a safe space where people can ask with no fear
With over 60% of millennial workers (in Australia) concerned about how their questions will be perceived, we believe a more inclusive environment will help solve this issue and empower people to question things more. This year we’ve worked on an Inclusion & Belonging survey advised by Stanford researchers and have recently launched it internally to see where we can do better as a company. We’ll also make it available as a benchmark-able template on our People Powered Data platform, so all companies can measure this crucial component of organisational wellbeing.
3. Hire a diverse team where different points of view and questions can inspire more learning
It should be blindingly obvious by now that your business is in trouble if you don’t have diversity on your senior leadership team and board of directors. And if you’re running a global business, the need for diverse perspectives is heightened by the fact that your customers and employees are diverse.
4. Practice the art of questioning
It’s not only one of the best ways to stay informed, but asking “why” helps you identify and understand the motivations driving employees, customers and partners. There is so much data and information available to businesses these days, but we don’t have the information to get to the “why” — this only comes from staying curious and asking questions. Just relying on data doesn’t work. It has to be combined with curiosity and people-powered insights.
5. Reward these great questions
At SurveyMonkey, we reward and recognise employees each week for their questions that drove innovation both through peer recognition programs and the leadership team’s announcements. Equally important is to highlight when curiosity led to failure. “Hey, we thought we had a good idea, we tested our hypothesis, it failed, we learned!” Celebrating when you swung and missed gives teams the confidence to keep trying.
6. Be in regular contact with your customers
Make sure you and every member of your team are in regular direct contact with customers to boost the organisation’s overall curiosity about customers. Only 31% of employees in our research (in AU) currently say their curiosity is piqued by customers. Survey your own team to find out what the number in your organisation is and bring it to 100%!
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