Self Starting and Asking Questions

In the workplace, at home, at school, or abroad two skills that will not only impress employers but will help you go further in life. Those two skills are the ability to ask questions, and the ability to self start.


In the manufacturing business, it is always impressive to see employees self start on the next task without having to be told what to do all the time. Employees that have that attitude build trust between the employer and the employee, and they have greater confidence that they will get the job done without having to babysit them.


That being said, there are extremes of self starting. Often the person is either too prideful to ask a question when they are unsure or think they know better. The ending result frequently is a botched project and in the manufacturing industry could cause injury to themselves, others, or machine failure.


Having intrinsic motivation is excellent! So is asking questions. By no means am I an expert, and yes, we could debate all the different extremes and combinations and how they don't work or bad experiences. What I want to cover is the happy medium. What every employer should look for and what every employee should strive to be/do.


If you talk to any employer, they will almost certainly agree that employees who are intrinsically motivated are some of the best employees in terms of work ethic. Employees who self start and finish projects, then move on to the next ones without being asked and the like.

Tackling new ideas head-on and demonstrating that you don't need to be micromanaged can make you stand out as an employee. Going the extra mile shows that you care about the success of the project and the business as a whole. Employees who, before asking a supervisor, initiate problem-solving, and find solutions to help strengthen and improve the company are in large part, what employers search for. Supervisors will applaud you for taking the initiative over complacency. While it is vital to self start and to take the initiative to stand out as an employee. It is also important to remember your place and work within it. Don't railroad your boss or challenge their authority. Recognize your position and shine within it.


What takes that employee to the next level is the ability to ask questions. Whether it is because they don't know how to ask, are scared, or don't want to ask. Everyone would much rather the project come out successful the first go around rather than it backfires because someone didn't ask a question or two.


Just as with the extreme self-starter, many of us know that one person who asks questions every step of the way without exploring other available resources. Before confronting and interrupting your boss or supervisor with a potentially nonsensical or simplistic question, be sure to exhaust all of your resources. Whether it be a manual, the internet, experimentation, or even a co-worker be sure that you have approached your issue from all angles before approaching your boss or supervisor. Often times the pressing quesiton you have that is impeding you from moving forwardcan be answered from someone or somewhere else.


To reiterate, questions are GOOD! Too many questions, however, result in both the questioner and the questionee distracting one another from their current task. To some, this article may seem self-explanatory or perhaps a little redundant, but there is always room for improvement!


As an employee asking questions show:


  • Your willingness to learn

  • enables you to do better at your job

  • Shows your open to change


I am only focusing on these three, but the list goes on. Questions as I will continue to repeat, are good. The real trick is how to ask questions. Well constructed questions result in fewer follow-up questions. When questioning in general and especially when asking a question manager or questioning someone of higher authority, you should follow two rules.


First and foremost show respect. If you don't show respect your question in their eyes immediately becomes an annoyance or irrelevant. Always, always show respect when respect is due. Secondly, show genuine curiosity. Questions shouldn't be used to complain, threaten, or challenge a manager. A question should be one that helps you learn or better understand the situation rather than challenge or degrade your boss. For more information on how to ask questions and what kinds of questions you should ask here is an article that I found incredibly helpful.


In my experience, the most compelling questions come in three different types. Questions That enlighten, add to, or expand the situation. When a question enlightens, it helps those involved gain a greater understanding of the situation or problem at hand. When a question adds, it becomes constructive. These kinds of questions are especially important when an employee has an idea on how to improve methodology on a particular procedure. A question that expands the situation is one that can bring issues to an employers attention without throwing a jab at them.


Questions can make a world of difference depending on how you use and phrase them. Often, many of us don't recognize how we are coming across when asking a question. What you think is a simple question may be interpreted a thousand ways, not all of them good. Questions can help broaden understanding; questions can help lighten a load, questions should be asked because remember, questions are GOOD!



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