The Importance Of The “Why”

People often start a request by mentioning what it is, this makes it seem much more like a chore and a command. There’s a way to make people more interested and actually listen to you even when you have a request. Talking about the “why” of a subject helps create a sense of trust and give off a feeling of belonging.

Explaining The “Why” To Your Team

As stated before getting people interested is part of having tasks done without complaint and in a more enthusiastic manner. As social beings, we have this innate need to feel included, explaining the “why” instills this sense of trust, which translates into being included in a group that knows why. The other half of this is our brain’s need to find connections, by explaining the “why” then the “what”, the association is instantly given. Knowing the reason behind a move, task, or project also helps ease in change, there is less resistance to a command if people know why it’s being done.

Real World Example

I had my executive assistant send a weekly email to managers giving updates on ticket statuses. It was done for a week then it didn’t happen the following week. I take full ownership of this because I completely forgot to explain the why to the task. After I took notice of the incomplete task, I rectified my mistake by explaining to my EA exactly why the task was so vital. After she understood the importance of the task, it became a weekly thing and happens like clockwork.


Just like with giving feedback, it is important to consistently explain the “why”. Make it a habit to explain the “why” for all projects so it becomes a regular thing in your company. If you’re a part of a meeting and you need people to do certain things, open up with the reason behind it. Having other managers do this for their team will also benefit everyone in the company. No matter the size of the task, make sure the reason is revealed and explained.

Create A “Why” Culture

Coupled with being consistent with explaining why something needs to be done, you should strive to create a “why” culture. Having everyone explain why something is being done will help everyone at every stage of the process. For example, if someone on the team is holding up the process, they can explain the process and what they’re doing to try to speed it up. From that point on, people will know exactly why something might take longer than expected and not jump to conclusions. Encourage people to ask “why” or just get everyone to explain “why” before saying the task. The latter is what you want to eventually happen, the former is just a way to help you get there. Take note, it is important to ask in a respectful manner. Referring back to the saying, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you said it”, your choice of tone/intonation plays a huge role when you ask a superior “why”. If you need to, build up to it, “my team will get right on it, in order to ensure your end goal is met, I’d like to understand the reason for this task, if you could give it to me so I can break it down for my team, that would be great.”

Explaining why something must be done is as important as explaining what must be done. It helps build trust with your teams as well as fostering workplace comradery which translates to a happier work environment. Try explaining the why and measure its effectiveness with your team.