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Curious – A Vital Behaviour for Contemporary HR Professionals

Why being Curious is the Most Important of All

By Scott Hunter

Scott is Oakwood's Associate Consultant and works in our Associate Team
More from Scott >>

In this blog, I will explore why I believe that being curious is the most important behaviour for HR professionals. The CIPD developed the HR Profession Map, which provides a competency framework for the HR Profession. Within this map, there are eight behaviours, one being curious. 

To start with it is important to examine what curious is; and how it is defined. The CIPD define curious as;

Future-focused, inquisitive and open-minded; seeks out evolving and innovative ways to add value to the organisation.

This highlights the need to be future focused and inquisitive. Being able to, or willing to, ask why. Not accept the way things are done now as the best way, but to be open to new ideas and concepts and constantly looking to improve and add value.

The CIPD themselves identify that HR should be asking what is ‘Next Practice,’ rather than what is ‘Best Practice.’ Finding out what others are doing, and how it can be adopted within an organisation is not being curious. Examining what is happening, and how things can be improved and evolved requires curious.

The trend now towards Insight Led HR, using big data and analysing information to provide forward thinking and innovative ways require HR Professionals to be curious. In the 2012 Sustainable Organisation Report, the CIPD defined insights as;

'Insights, which are effectively how the foundation is positioned in two or three key points. Insight- generation is, at root, problem-solving, seeing something differently or reformulating a problem/ solution in a way which drives action.' 

It is impossible to see how HR Professionals can gain insights without being curious. Being curious is the first step to being creative and innovative. You cannot have creativity without curious, as Gary Klein in his book ‘Seeing What Others Don’t – The Remarkable Way We Gain insights’ Argues that it is the ability to join dots, question assumptions and be open to new ideas that help individuals gain insights. At the core of this is the requirements to be curious. In his Ted Talk, Klein argues that being curious is the way that leaders can gain insights.

If HR is to move from traditional, best practice driven solutions, it must develop an insight and forward thinking approach. The dynamics of the environment, both internal and external are moving at an exponential rate. This creates new challenges, but also massive possibilities.

Looking at what is coming over the horizon, or perhaps is already here, provides food for thought and a unique opportunity to drive change and innovation within organisations at a pace never experienced before. A.I., Robotics, 3D printing, technological advances and block chain are all in the news, and  advancing at an exponential rate.

It is time to stop looking for best practice, but instead to look to the future and create a profession that can adapt to and take advantages of these opportunities. To create innovative, co-creative solutions that add real value to organisations and put HR at the centre of the business, rather than at the periphery working on historical data and bench-marking to be the same as the rest.

To achieve this there must be curiosity, to my mind this is the catalyst of the mind-set change required to deliver truly innovative solutions. Without being curious, how can HR be forward thinking, creative and how can it gain insights? It is time to question the assumptions that we use to build the business and services and truly look at what is needed.

In the words of Daniel Pink ‘There is a mismatch between what business does and science knows.’ Go out there, open your eyes, see the world through different lenses and be curious, only then will you truly gain insight. And once you have gained an insight, you can no go back to the old way of thinking. 

Being curious is the igniter for change and innovation.

I would be curious to hear your thoughts on what you believe the most important behavior is for a HR Professional.

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