Want to succeed? Ask questions!

img_4643Ask questions! That is my one piece of advice to all new employees. Heck, start asking questions before you get the job. The traditional interview process is no longer relevant. It’s not a one-way Q&A session anymore. The Q&A goes both ways now. Ask your new employer questions that are meaningful to your decision process. This will help both you and your potential employer make a better decision about whether or not you would do well in the job, in the organization and on the team.

Once you start a job, it is just as important to continue asking questions. No one knows everything even if they tell you they do! I’ve heard all the excuses and assumptions:

  • I’m scared I’ll sound stupid.
  • I’m afraid they think I should know the answer to that already.
  • I don’t know who to ask.
  • I don’t want to bother them.
  • They’re so busy. They don’t have time to answer my questions.
  • I probably don’t really need to know that right now. I’ll ask if I ever have to know.
  • If I needed to know that, they would tell me so I don’t need to ask.
  • I’m sure someone else will ask my question.
  • I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.

Well, guess what? These are all actually very valid concerns and feelings. But, guess what else? They don’t need to stop you from asking questions and growing yourself and your career.

  • So, someone thinks you sound stupid. Who cares? You still gain something out of getting the answer. Who’s problem is it that they think you sound stupid? It’s not your problem.
  • Maybe you should know the answer but if you don’t, keeping quiet isn’t going to get you the answer.
  • If you don’t know who to ask, ask everyone until you find out who the right person is to ask.
  • If people are bothered by you asking a question, that is their burden to carry, not yours.
  • Everyone is busy, including you, I’m sure. You’ll be more productive if you ask and so will they because they know you’re getting your work done.
  • Growth is about learning as much as you can so even if you don’t need to know it, ask questions about things you want to know.
  • Never assume that someone is going to look out for you. You need to ask questions proactively rather than waiting for people to give you all the information you need to do your job.
  • Again, you’re going down a very uncertain path if you’re waiting for someone else to ask the question you have. What if they do it when you’re not there and now you don’t have the answer?
  • Maybe you will figure it out eventually but wouldn’t it be nice to get the answer and figure it out now?

I instill this in my team and in all the employees I work with every single day. The ones who ask a lot of questions have become the go-to people in the organization. They always seem to have the answers because they always ask the questions.

So, let me ask you a question: are you going to start asking questions or are you going to miss a golden opportunity to do well at your new job and exceed expectations?

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