After doing the same job for 3 years I had gotten into a serious rut. I didn’t care about it anymore. It felt like everyday was a repeat of the day before. I was burned out and checked out. When the assembly line would call me with an issue, I would ask a couple of questions and then go out to talk to the operator I knew caused the defect. Too often I didn’t even go look at the part, I jumped to who made the mistake, instead of looking at the situation.
Most of the time I was right about my assumption as to the cause of the issue, but not always. One morning the production supervisor called me as I sat down at my desk. Ken was having a fit because the assembly line called about a bad part. Both he and I knew they had to be wrong, we had seen the part in question and knew it had been dealt with prior to being sent to the line.
Well, it turns out we were both wrong. We went to the operations manager’s office to talk to him about the situation and he shared his perspective and frustration. Both Ken and I knew Jim well and had good working relationship with him, so we were shocked by his information. We agreed to go look at the part. To our surprise the part was in terrible shape and should not have been sent to the line. It didn’t look at all like we expected it to look. We apologized to Jim and got the right person working on fixing it.
By assuming we knew the answer to the problem, we hadn’t taken the time to ask ourselves “what if there really is an issue?”. Fortunately, we didn’t damage our relationship with Jim or the assembly line in the long run since we made it right quickly, but we could have created a mess for everyone if we hadn’t gone to investigate the situation.
It’s easy to think we know what’s going on but often things happen that we don’t see or hear about that impact the situation. When faced with a problem or constructive criticism it’s critical to be curious about what is going on. Taking the time to ask questions, look for different perspectives, and be open to input will help your work relationships by building trust that you will listen.
Here are my 3 favorite tips to stay curious:
Bring your curiosity to work to keep boredom at bay and to build relationships with the people you work with by listening and learning from them. When we stop being curious we stop learning and growing.