“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”- Henry Ford
The automotive innovator and business tycoon was right, and his hard work paid off. The Ford Motor Company is still churning out cars with his name on them over a hundred years since he envisioned a world full of automobiles.
Critical thinking is a doorway for inspiration and innovation, two things every business needs to succeed. Once you and your employees start thinking beyond what is and toward what could be, you open new possibilities for your company.
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Here are four of the best ways to make sure your employees use the full potential of their minds at work.
- Hire applicants who already think critically. Whether you choose an employment agency or do your hiring in-house, find applicants who are responsive to mental stimulation. Improve your odds of getting visionaries and pioneers by being more selective in your hiring process. Have aspiring members of your company take cognitive ability tests for employment during their application process. This way, you determine which of your future employees use out-of-the-box thinking, and which ones are prone to uninspired ideas.
- Create a company culture that welcomes questions. Some employers don’t appreciate their employees speaking up and voicing questions. If you want to make people comfortable about thinking critically, you must foster a company culture where questions aren’t just welcomed but encouraged. Insight is one of the foundations of critical thinking, and that requires a lot of questions. When people question things, they imagine possibilities outside of what’s in front of them. This is vital for stoking the flames of inspiration in your employees’ minds.
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- Challenge the status quo. Visionaries and innovators don’t become the way they are by accepting what exists. They dare to look beyond the horizon and speculate about what they don’t know. When building a company that encourages critical thinking, appreciate employees who think up ways to improve how your company operates. Routine may be comforting, but if an employee challenges the way things have always been done and presents an idea that may be better, don’t shoot them down. If you want proof that challenging the status quo works in business, consider Apple, Inc. Their slogan was “Think Different,” and today the company is one of the most inventive and lucrative in the world.
- Facilitate debate and discussion. Critical thinking is a collaborative effort. If thoughts are blades, other people’s opinions and arguments are the whetstones that sharpen them. Make it a habit to hold forums and moderated debates concerning impending company policies, projects, and procedures. Engaging your employees in a professional discussion of your thoughts is a great way of creating camaraderie, reaching a consensus, and appreciating different points of view.
If thinking is the hardest work, then coaxing others to do it is an uphill battle. But if you use the right methods and temper it with a positive attitude, you’ll help your employees reach new levels of creativity and mental aptitude. By doing so, you give them the tools they need to lift your business too.