Melissa Dahl recently reported on new research from Alison Wood Brooks and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Maurice E. Schweitzer of Wharton School on how people are perceived when they ask for advice.

Their research shows that contrary to be seen as stupid for not knowing the answer, advisors’ perceptions of the competence of the advice seekers is enhanced. And asking questions has the added benefit of spreading knowledge throughout an organisation.

The link above will take you to the full paper; the abstract is here: –

Although individuals can derive substantial benefits from exchanging information and ideas, many individuals are reluctant to seek advice from others. We find that people are reticent to seek advice for fear of appearing incompetent. This fear, however, is misplaced. We demonstrate that individuals perceive those who seek advice as more competent than those who do not seek advice. This effect is moderated by task difficulty, advisor egocentrism, and advisor expertise. Individuals perceive those who seek advice as more competent when the task is difficult than when it is easy, when people seek advice from them personally than when they seek advice from others, and when people seek advice from experts than from non-experts or not at all.

So ensure that your people feel safe to ask any question and everyone will feel more confident; will think more highly of each other and the organisation’s knowledge will expand.