Business executives and company managers tend to talk about the importance of critical thinking but they rarely ever try to encourage it in their own teams. As a matter of fact, most of them don’t even know how to describe and explain this phrase.
By definition, critical thinking is the ability and willingness to assess claims and make objective judgments on the basis of well-supported reasons. It's one of the factors of emotional intelligence that can determine an employee's contribution to the company.
This phenomenon is one of the essential preconditions of a successful business. As an entrepreneur, you can’t do everything by yourself and you need to feel free to rely on your subordinates in everyday work.
In this article, we will show you 9 ways to encourage critical thinking in the workplace.
How to Boost Inspiration in Your Employees
All managers should learn how to stimulate their colleagues to propose business ideas and take part in decision-making processes. Emily Sanders, an HR specialist at Resumes Planet, recently noted:
“Just like any other skill, critical thinking is only a matter of training and exercise. That’s why you need to prepare and follow a plan to boost this skill among your employees.”
But how exactly can you do this? Let’s take a closer look here.
1. Allow Them to Express Opinions
Obedience is a natural element of the business hierarchy. Everybody has to know who is in charge and there are no arguments about it. However, a company is not an army and you should always allow workers to express their opinions because critical thinking and argument skills are crucial aspects of decision-making.
Sooner or later, your employees will have to learn to make decisions alone, which will be impossible if you don’t allow them to speak their minds in the workplace. Help train them to make good choices and decisions so that when that time comes, their decisions reflect well on the company.
Brainstorming sessions could become a genuine source of inspiration both for you and your employees. You should organize this type of meeting every once in a while to come up with project ideas. These sessions will allow employees to draw from their diverse backgrounds and unique experiences to bring valuable suggestions. It will also inspire your staff to avoid routine work and start thinking about their duties more seriously.
Brainstorming won’t bring you instant success but it will definitely make your team more creative in the long run.
3. Data-driven Analysis
Critical thinking is not only about intuition, personal experience, and inspiration. On the contrary, individuals who perfected this skill rely mostly on data-driven analysis to support their claims. Just like you can use data for employee engagement, using it in decision making is something that you as an employer need to teach your team members. They should be careful enough not to take information for granted as this is the most common cause of business mistakes.
Your employees should analyze every detail of their work before taking concrete actions – this is the only guarantee of success.
People always say that practice makes perfect, which really is the truth. Role-playing is one of those exercises that can help your staff to master the art of critical thinking. For instance, you could set up a discussion where each member of the team would play a specific role. In this simulation, employees would face a probable business problem and try to solve it as efficiently as possible.
This kind of role-playing practice will help them to think and act promptly and more precisely in real-life situations.
5. Invest in Employee Training
According to the research, the generation of Millennials is really struggling with critical thinking in the digital age. They receive tons of false information and don’t know how to determine what is right and what is wrong, which is why you need to help them to overcome this issue. You should invest in employee training and allow them to develop critical thinking gradually.
First of all, they should learn the basics of business methodology and logical reasoning. Secondly, they need to know where to find reliable information and how to draw meaningful conclusions out of it. There are also other methods (visualization, comparative analysis, etc.) and you should give them the chance to find out more about all this through professional training.
6. Analyze Good Decisions
You’ve probably figured out by now that critical thinking is all about analysis. In that regard, you can encourage critical thinking among your employees by analyzing the good decisions they used to make during work. Make sure to recognize their efforts and reward when appropriate. This way, all of your crew members will have the opportunity to see and understand what is supposed to be done in certain situations.
Giving them positive feedback on good decisions will only encourage employees to continue making them! Reinforcing your employee's confidence to develop all kinds of skills that will benefit your company.
7. Analyze the Bad Decisions Also
Knowing what is wrong is often as important as learning what is right. This is why you should also analyze bad decisions, especially if this is something that your employees keep repeating. That way, you will eliminate a lot of practical problems and improve decision-making processes within your team. Work together with your employee to identify what is causing the problem to hopefully never have it happen again.
Constructive feedback is key to changing behavior and increasing performance among your employees.
8. Don’t be Too Judgmental
Everybody makes mistakes at work and so do your employees. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to be overly judgmental on all occasions. You can save critiques for big mistakes but you must allow workers to try something new from time to time. Don’t punish them for small imperfections at work just because they tried to put fresh ideas into practice. If you do this, you will only discourage them and they will forget about your ‘critical thinking’ mantra.
When critique must be given, explain your reasoning clearly and offer alternative methods so that they can know better how to approach similar situations in the future.
9. Be a Role Model
The best way to inspire your employees is to be a good role model. If they see you constantly coming up with alternative solutions to business challenges, it is highly likely that they will start behaving just like you. Therefore, you should be one of their main motives to embrace critical thinking in the workplace.
A profitable business is almost impossible without a reliable team of employees. They are not supposed just to follow your commands as they should also embrace critical thinking as part of their work. In this article, we explained to you 9 ways to encourage this skill in the workplace. Give our tips a try and let us know in comments if you have other interesting suggestions to share with our readers.
Eva Wislow is a career coach and HR Executive from Pittsburgh. She is on a mission to help people find their true calling. Eva maintains a strong interest in bringing the digital revolution in human resources. She finds her inspiration in writing and peace of mind through yoga. Connect with Eva on Twitter.