The top-down approach to management has persisted throughout modern times, but is it the best way to get the most out of your team? Considering how even the most experienced business leaders can make mistakes, fostering an environment that celebrates critical thinking can prevent costly errors. Oftentimes, it can even identify the ideal solution to each problem.
What is critical thinking?
Sometimes the most obvious answer isn’t the best one. In a professional sense, critical thinking is about setting aside your personal bias and preconceived notions to consider a question from numerous perspectives.
By logically analysing the information available to find the optimal response, it’s possible to deliver vastly improved outcomes for the business that reduce costs, optimise performance and outperform the previous way of doing things.
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Why critical thinking is vital to business success
If hiring employees with top-notch critical thinking skills is on your mind, you aren’t the only one. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, critical thinking and problem-solving skills were viewed by leading businesses as the most important employee traits for the next five years.
But what makes critical thinking so important to the modern workplace? This talent ensures individual workers make better decisions and benefit from enhanced communication with their colleagues. When implemented across each facet of your operation, the results can be outstanding.
How to promote critical thinking in the workplace
Don’t think that critical thinking is just something people are born with. It’s actually a remarkably learnable skill that allows workers to identify relevant information, validate arguments and arrive at the ideal conclusion. Here, we explore strategies employers can use to foster crucial thinking amongst their workforce and take their operations to even greater heights.
1. Appreciate difference
You can only generate a safe space for debate if employees using critical thinking feel supported by management. Therefore, business leaders must encourage radical ideas that others might instinctively react to negatively.
While exploring an idea outside the box might first seem like a waste of time, you might find that your team has discovered the best possible solution to your problem. Support critical thinking by celebrating differences and pushing your team to consider the unexpected.
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2. Don’t rush to conclusions
As critical thinking involves exploring an issue from various perspectives, don’t be surprised to find that reaching the perfect solution takes your team longer than usual. This means management needs to avoid rushing to a conclusion or the entire process becomes redundant.
So, what can you do to enhance your approach? Develop a series of questions that explore the nature of the problem and how it changes depending on relevant factors. Meanwhile, research your most desired outcome before deciding which solution makes the most sense.
3. Get comfortable with disagreements
Disagreements may not be viewed as a good thing in traditional workplaces, yet these are bound to occur in workplaces that encourage critical thinking. By developing a space where team members anticipate and even look forward to this challenge, you can create a high-performance business environment.
However, this approach requires careful consideration. By setting clear guidelines and expectations that keep this process positive for all involved, your business can generate a healthy workplace that sees your team strive to achieve the optimal outcome.
4. Train your team
As previously mentioned, critical thinking is undoubtedly a learnable skill. To get people familiar with the process, hold regular brainstorming sessions that bring varied team members together to collaborate on an issue and analyse their thought processes. This provides a healthy environment for debate and discussion.
You can also get more direct in your approach with specific critical thinking training sessions. This can help your employees learn to use logical reasoning, research new evidence or challenge their own conclusions. Make critical thinking a part of your team’s skillset to achieve first-class results.