I have a new employee who is doing a wonderful job picking up all the nuances of advancing music talent for a cruise ship, which if you don’t know, can be quite intimidating. This is because, in addition to the regular parts of advancing a band for the stage, we also have to deal with the complex intricacies of moving talent around the planet. We constantly navigate the challenges of passports, visas, and the border agents of multiple sovereign nations. If that isn’t enough, we have to follow the rules and document policies set forth by the vessel to make sure our talent can board without issue. In short, it is a lot to learn… especially for someone brand new so it is no surprise that my new employee has a LOT of questions.
About a week into our time together, she began apologizing for all her inquiries. She was relieved that I didn’t consider her questions an imposition and quite surprised that I saw them as a blessing in disguise. You see, I (and most of my team) have been on auto-pilot for the past year or so. We have fallen into a nice groove and business has been operating rather smoothly. It wasn’t until our newbie started asking questions that I realized things weren’t operating as smoothly as we thought. Her questions poked holes in our processes. They revealed areas of opportunity to tighten up our operations, streamline our workflow, and make our lives easier in the long run. I went on to explain that with her being new to the game. It gave us an “in” to ask questions across the various departments with which we collaborate. If I, someone with four years in the company, ask a question. I would likely get a less in-depth answer from the recipient. Similarly, if I, a leader in the company, asked a coordinator a question. That person may be hesitant to give me the real story of how things go down “in the trenches.” Now, if a new person reaches out to those same individuals. They will likely get much more elaborate answers because people love to help. They may also get more truthful answers about how the process is “actually” being done. Both of these responses help us find gaps in our process and are perhaps more valuable than the question itself.
One of the greatest minds to ever walk the planet – Marcus Aurelius explained in Meditations. There is nothing so bad that we can’t make some good out of it. We can treat every problem as an opportunity to practice virtue. While he was focused more on doing the right thing when faced with challenges, the lesson can also be applied to many of life’s everyday moments including one where a new employee is trying to learn their job. Sure, they are facing the “problem” of learning how business is handled but they also hold the “opportunity” to turn that same problem into a grand benefit for the collective whole of the company.
So, “YES!” Ask questions. Not only do you learn by getting your questions answered. The educator is forced to explain the process and in doing so. They will likely learn something as well.