When I was 21, a Director at my first job as a quantity surveyor gave me an unforgettable piece of advice.
I was just starting my journey as a QS, and had been running myself ragged trying to be like colleagues who had 40 years of experience in Week 1.
I had a relatively good education. I got good grades and went to reputable university. But I ended up in job which had a steep learning curve. As a result, I always felt really stupid. I felt like I didn't know the things that I was supposed to.
Until one day, my Director said to me:
"There is no such thing as a stupid question."
That day, my whole attitude towards learning changed.
Hearing that statement from my Director was liberating. I was no longer fearful of asking a basic question.
I started Law at university. So when I made the decision the become a quantity surveyor, I knew I would be starting on the back foot. Part of my graduate contract was to undertake a 2 year part-time Masters conversion course.
It was useful for understanding a broad context but for day-to-day tasks the content was not there.
This is where the experience of my colleagues and mentors came in. I wasn't made to feel like a burden. The freedom of asking questions enabled me to grow, learn and understand the fundamentals of my field.
If you are manager, I implore you to develop the same environment for your staff. It will breed confidence, loyalty and a hunger to develop.