People are innately curious. Think back to when you were a child and constantly asking “why,” like “why is the sky blue?” or “Why is the grass green?” Asking “why” is a child’s way of learning and forming ideas of the world around him or her. The same is true of adult learners. To cultivate an environment of critical thinkers and innovators, we have to encourage people to ask “why.”
So, why is explaining “why” so important?
Helping employees understand the “why” creates a slew of benefits for companies, including improving project performance, fostering a positive culture and driving employee retention, just to name a few. Today, we’ll explore four.
Increase employee confidence
Many organizations are made of not one single force, but many smaller working parts. In order for the organization to thrive, all parts must be synchronized. Effective and consistent communication is the key here.
At Paycom, coaching and developing employees are among some of the most important things leaders do every day. Because of leaders’ ability to communicate effectively and consistently, more than 95 percent of employees confidently said they understand how the work they do contributes to the company’s overall strategy. Employees who understand why they do what they do are more confident at work.
Recently, I shared with my team my “why.” It went a little something like this:
“Do I have a passion for payroll, taxes, COBRA, garnishments, benefits or ACA? Not exactly, but I do have a passion for leadership, development and growth; all of these things I discovered and fostered while working at Paycom.
People say to do what you love. Well, I love shopping, but that’s taking the statement with shallow understanding. I also love helping others find their happiness and success, much like I did. That’s why I love what I do and that’s ‘why Paycom’ for me. What’s your ‘why?’”
This simple exercise struck a chord with my team members. Along with their self-improvement and leadership goals, they began sharing why they are proud of their work. As a result, we experienced increased engagement and motivation. I also learned so much about my team through all of this, and today, we have a better understanding of one another on a personal level.
When team members understand the driving force behind a project, they are more engaged in the success. Be transparent. Don’t just tell them to run that report; explain why they are doing it. What’s the bigger picture? And how does this step fit in?
Avoid “Because I said so” at all costs. That might have worked for previous generations, but your employees want and deserve a valuable explanation. If you really desire peak performance, taking time to explain the “why” is a best practice. You’ll see productivity increase and team members take more accountability.
Drive critical thinking and innovation
Probing with questions fuels our thinking. Successful thinkers propel businesses onward and upward. How? They ask the right question: “Why?” It’s a simple question, but one that elicits a desire to learn more. Successful thinkers don’t settle for what is; rather, they always look for what could be. This is the type of behavior businesses should be rewarding.
Explaining the “why” is important. But before you can reap the benefits, you must first identify why it is important to your business. Are you looking to increase employee engagement or do you value innovation? Whatever your reasoning might be, define it, understand it and share it. That’s why.