It all boils down to basics
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2019 - 12:00am

Given the speed at which technology is advancing, one challenge facing many companies is ensuring their workforces are up to speed on their continuously changing systems. But training people isn’t the issue. It’s getting them to ask for help when they need it, that’s a problem. Why?

According to Harvard Management Update, people often won’t ask for help even when they know it’s available – if they have to do so through a subordinate or a superior. They won’t ask subordinates for fear of surrendering authority. And they won’t ask their boss for fear of appearing incompetent. Workers are likely to consult an equal for help, however. That’s why it’s critical for managers to anticipate where their people may need help, and then make sure there’s someone of equivalent status available with the knowledge to help. Even when the times have changed, some things remain the same. People are hesitant to ask questions.

Consider the following. You and your friend go to a strange place. And though the motorist is holding a sketch in his hands, the two of you can’t seem to find the place you’re looking for. Haven’t you noticed that certain people would continue to waste time and gasoline driving on rather than stop for a while to ask questions? Men are notoriously guilty of this. Some wise guy said: “Do you know what would have happened if it had been Three Wise Women instead of three Wise Men? They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.”

Now, the thing you will have to ask is why do people refrain from doing something so simple and basic such as asking questions? Well, perhaps, they still think they can figure out the solution for their problem by themselves. Or maybe, they’re just too proud to ask. Perhaps they think people would laugh at them when they ask questions, or they’re so challenged with the situation they would prefer to discover the answers and consider it a great victory when they are able to.

“The Creative Spirit” (Dutton), written by Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray, offers dramatic examples of how you can put creativity to work in whatever you do by asking questions. During periods of great change, answers don’t last very long, but a question is worth a lot. A creative life is a continued quest, and good questions are useful guides. The most useful questions are open-ended; they allow a fresh, unanticipated answer to reveal itself. These are the kinds of questions children aren’t afraid to ask. They seem naive at first. But think how different our lives would be if certain questions were never asked.

Jim Collins of “Good to Great” fame has compiled the following list of “questions of wonder:”

• Albert Einstein: What would a light wave look like to someone keeping pace with it?

• Bill Bowerman (inventor of Nike shoes): What happens if I pour rubber into my waffle iron?

• Fred Smith (founder of Federal Express): Why can’t there be reliable overnight mail service?

• Godfrey Hounsfield (inventor of the CAT scanner): Why can’t we see in three dimensions what is inside a human body without cutting it open?

• Masaru Ibuka (honorary chairman, Sony): Why don’t we remove the recording function and speaker and put headphones in the recorder? (Result: the Sony Walkman.)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doing so does not degrade you as a person. But hiding your weaknesses and refusing to take responsibility for a wrong decision as a result of this devaluates your worth as a person. Asking questions is a sign of a person having a vibrant mind. Refusing to acknowledge that help is needed is pride.

Scriptures say: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. And there is no question to what this part of Scriptures has to say.

(Connect with Francis Kong in or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 dzFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.

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