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When — and Why — Employee Curiosity Annoys Managers


Researchers conducted a series of studies to understand when curiosity may lead to different reactions in the workplace. They found that curious employees were often seen by their leaders as insubordinate and, in turn, less likable. However, curious employees who were politically skilled were not seen this way. They distinguished between constructive curiosity, which involved seeking information, knowledge, or learning by asking many provocative questions that don’t have easy answers, and unconstructive curiosity, which involved seeking information, knowledge, or learning by asking too many questions and questions with easy answers. Their findings have implications for both managers, who should ensure they’re not dismissing employees expressing constructive curiosity, and employees, who should ensure they’re not engaging in unconstructive curiosity.



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