Curiosity in HR

Francesca Leyne

| 2 Posts

Chartered Member

20 Jan, 2015 11:04

Hello everyone,

A group of my colleagues and I are doing some work on improving curiosity in our HR function. We think we have a reasonable idea of what it means to be curious in HR (based largely on the CIPD Profession Map's definition of the behaviour).

We are keen to learn from others about developing, recognising and rewarding curiosity, in practice. Does anyone have any positive stories to tell or know of case-studies from other organisations which we could learn from?

We appreciate that this is a two-way street and are very happy to share our experiences too.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes



  • Hi Francesca,

    Great question. Staying curious is so important but not an easy thing to pin down. In my view, a big part of it must be about reading up on research - both theory / ideas and recent evidence. This is something we try to encourage at CIPD with our monthly 'In a nutshell' reviews. They give a snapshot of some of the research and thinking that we find interesting, but perhaps even more importantly, they're intended as illustrations of some of the stuff you have at your fingertips as CIPD members. Having access to EBSCO for journal articles is a fantastic benefit (see 'Popular resources' on the website). Of course, you've also then got things that are freely available anyway - so hbr.org as well as Harvard Business review itself thru EBSCO, for example.

    Regarding incentives, in the main I think learning has to be it's own incentive, tho it does need to be encouraged and facilitated.

    Instead I'll suggest a habit. Why not set hbr.org as your homepage and set aside some time each week to read it? It's a good starting point for ideas. If you stumble on an interesting subject or piece of research, you can then use EBSCO to search for more articles. Then you might settle on a journal that suits you (some are more accessible than others!) that you can read regularly.

    There's a long way to go. If you compare HR as a profession to the medical world, there's a huge difference, with much bigger expectations on doctors not just to stay up to date with recent research, but also to develop skills to discern the quality of evidence from different pieces of research.

    I'm aware I come at this from my role as a researcher and there will be other views. But I do think this is part of what being curious should be about.

  • Steven

    | 452 Posts

    Chartered Member

    22 Jan, 2015 12:03

    I am embarrassed to say I had to look up curiosity on the CIPD site.  There are two concepts which do spring to mind which may (or may not) be useful.  The first is to follow the Aristotle (or Detective Colombo for slightly more up to date) style of naive questioning.  It is amazing how informative this style of questioning can be.  Try it with some of your KPI's.  This technique also works wonders when reading published articles.  For example, many authors cannot help themselves when they predict things like 'all successful companies will behave like X or will use Z techniques in the future'.

    The second one is one of my favourites and that is the 'veil of ignorance' which essentially says when looking at a problem or solution you will not know your position or status within the problem.  This was most famously used in slavery arguments.  If you do not know the colour of your skin, would you still be in favour of slavery?

  • Francesca Leyne

    | 2 Posts

    Chartered Member

    4 Feb, 2015 10:48

    Hi both

    Thank you for these thoughts. I particularly like the idea of setting up a new habit. Many people check social media, blogs etc nowadays to help them with their personal interests/ fitness goals etc. So why wouldn't we do the same to help us at work.

    We're also trying to learn by doing and just get on with making connections, asking questions and offering up our own experiences to others who might be interested. It's been a very interesting project.

    Any other thoughts would be very welcome.

    Best wishes


  • David

    | 16 Posts


    10 Apr, 2016 11:19

    In reply to Francesca Leyne:

    Francesca, did you manage to get any more insight into this topic? I am currently writing up a dissertation proposal and this is the very topic I am researching. Looking at business partnering and why in many cases it does not work. The underlying problem from what I have gathered is a lack of curiosity in individuals. All people I have interviewed are intelligent mentally and emotionally, however, there is a lack of wanting to understand how things work beyond the scope of HR. I'm exploring now why this is, is it time constraints, is it lack of need or want?

    I can understand the position offered above about getting people to read more, however, like extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, you can get people to read more, will that in the long term cause behavioural change in them to read more when not being asked to?

    My last few years has been working in behavioural and culture change specifically around HSE. Much of this has been getting people to analyse situations to understand where there has been an issue. A potential option I would suggest is having people trained in route cause analysis. Getting people into the habit of asking 'why' in everything they do. This would add value through improving business performance within HR itself but also help instil the mindset in people along the way.
More Content