Is why defiant?

Why is it considered in some companies (probably many companies), so defiant, so obtrusive and inconvenient, to ask why?

Bosses, when your employees ask why, do you see that as an act of disobedience? Do you label them as defiant, lazy?

Discouraging ‘why’ used to work. It worked in the industrial revolution, when raising your hand meant that you weren’t busy. But apparently, some companies (probably many companies) are stuck in the mindset of making a need for clarity and vision one of the seven deadly sins.

The obvious (not so obvious to those who are stuck) alternative is to encourage people to raise their hand. To see their willingness to go beyond merely being a cog in the machine. To value the kind of insight they have, the kind of insight that comes only to those who are in the front lines.

To the stuck company, raising your hand to ask a question means that you’re not being busy enough. Raising your hand signals to your boss and coworkers that your hands aren’t working on the machine. You’re being unproductive. Put your hand down. Get back to work.

If you’re managing people in a company whose culture discourages ‘why’ – stop. Let your people ask why. They’re not as stupid as you think.

And if you’re one of the people being managed in a company that’s stuck in that mindset, then you need to ask yourself why you’re still with that company.

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