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Ask the Next Question

State National's Learning and Development Team Encourages the Simple Yet Important Practice of Asking More Questions

By: David Holmes

I don’t want to give away a State National success secret, but there is one important action that applies to most companies and may help your organization as well. One cultural element we strive to instill in all of our learning interactions is to “ask the next question.” As we look to make incremental improvements in our lives as individuals and as a company, sometimes we need to dig a little deeper and learn a little more about a person, situation, or process to spark ideas and uncover opportunities for growth. By always asking the next question to gain more understanding, we can have a more complete picture that can help us more effectively react, help, and improve.

Cocktail napkin with these words printed on it "Have questions? Ask."

Ask the Next Question — and Keep Asking

When SNC employees enter into any new situation, our Learning & Development team encourages them to assess the circumstances and current status, determine the knowledge level of other players, and notice where in the process they are stepping in. This helps in creating good questions existing team members might not think of because they are already so immersed in the project. If a team has been meeting for two months on a project and then invites you to join as a new member, asking that next question that had been overlooked could help you and the team move forward faster. As your knowledge of the team or process grows, your ability to ask stronger questions will emerge. We have found that innovative, customer-focused ideas often come into view more readily when using this technique.

Our team encourages all associates to be active participants and to never fear asking the next question. We consider each person to be a contributor to the success of the project or process improvement. This may seem like common sense, but all too often this approach isn’t built into the culture of companies. At State National, “asking the next question” is a critical component in helping to ensure that everyone is a successful contributor in moving our organization forward.

David Holmes has held the position of Director of Learning and Development at State National for 12 years. In this time, he has been able to build a learning culture and expand the sense of “customer first” throughout the company. David focuses on employee skill-building and preparing associates to grow and advance within the organization. He and his team are responsible for all aspects of business, service, and leadership training within State National.