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How to Promote Independent Thinking

An important factor within progressive corporate culture is the development of a team whose members go the extra mile to help their employers. Independent thinking of this kind promises many perks for any business or organisation looking to grow within its own means.

Whilst seldom seen as something that can be taught, independent thinking can be encouraged in a number of simple ways:

Establish what is meant by ‘Independent Thinking’

In order for a business to benefit from independent thinking, it is important that the people working for it (at all levels) are aware of exactly what is meant by the term. Whilst we know the standard definition implies taking the ‘extra mile’ when it comes to the creation and development of ideas likely to increase productivity (sales, customer outreach etc) – it is more than likely that the term will stretch further with each workplace. The key is to determine the kind of thinking likely to encourage positive change, and to make your employees consistently aware of this newfound information.

Make Yourself Available

If you’re employed at a managerial level, make sure those with cause know exactly how to get in touch with you. Providing clear communication channels through which colleagues can get in touch with you is paramount in the promotion and nurturing of independent thinking.

More and more company’s now run their own internal social networks, and these are great for the sharing of ideas. As long as everyone is aware of the platforms available to them and that their thoughts and ideas will always be taken into consideration, independent thought will surely flow.

Don’t Just Listen, Act

Let me lay out a beyond-typical workplace scenario for you. A manager introduces an internal communications platform and invites their employees to share any thoughts they may have towards businesses conduct (independent thinking). The overjoyed employees take to the network and discuss each-others ideas, forming some rather sound concepts which would go a long way in improving the workings of the company. The over-worked manager delays acting on the suggestions of their employees- and eventually forgets about them all together. The employees cease to think independently and nothing changes for the better. Don't let this be the tale of your workplace and of your staff, act to take into account every single snippet of feedback you can gather from the individuals who make the company what it is. 

Ask Questions, Lots

By engaging with employees in a way that encourages them to air their opinions on business as a whole- and not just their specific role, not only do those at managerial level show compassion and likeability- but get people thinking about the bigger picture. People who are thinking about the bigger picture are generally the kind of people who will generate some great ideas.

Share Power

Independent thinking is something that should be encouraged from the position of an equal peer, and not demanded from the ivory tower of management. By training fellow team members to lead as you do, you’ll encourage initiative and open mindedness. Clear communication is generally considered to be the core of all good leadership, so start with that!

Resourcefulness is the primary aim of independent thinking, and who better to formulate the ideas necessary to streamline company activity than those on the payroll? Allocating responsibility and decision making power is a no brainer if you’d like a little passion from your staff.

Remember that trust comes first in open corporate culture, whether it’s your trust in an employee to carry out a duty unfamiliar to them, or an employee’s trust in you to act on, or at least take into account an idea they’ve had. Without any of these then you will never be able to effectively promote independent thinking in your workplace.

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