Dr. Judy Chartrand, author of the My Thinking Styles assessment and co-author of Now You’re Thinking!, asked a group of webcast attendees a great question recently. She asked “how many of you, at some point in your life, have been on a physical fitness plan (i.e. diet and/or exercise)?” Most people have, otherwise the weight loss industry wouldn’t be worth $1-2 Billion each year. In fact, you probably included something about your physical health in your New Year’s resolution.
But what about your mental health? When was the last time you put yourself on a “thinking plan?” Never? That’s not surprising either. Intuitively, we know if we eat better and work out more, we will be more physically fit. But what do you do to become more mentally fit?
Your brain is something that should be nourished and trained, just like your muscles.
Now, let’s take the physical fitness analogy one step further. You’re a manager and want to improve your employee’s overall health. What would you do? Would you bring in a coach to show them some workout techniques for 4 hours? Would you expect them to walk out of the training room looking like Olympic athletes? Of course not, but that’s how we seem to think about corporate soft skills training. Four hours with a physical fitness coach wouldn’t help you drop 30 pounds, so why do we think 4 hours with a corporate soft skills trainer will help us reverse a lifetime of bad habits? Critical thinking, strategic thinking, and creative thinking are lifetime skills. They aren’t mastered after four hours. They require exercise, practice, coaching, and reinforcement.
When you want to invest in your employees’ critical thinking skills, you need to make a commitment to the overall goal. Start by asking yourself some tough questions. What resources can you offer them? How will you measure success? What should success look like for your team? How will you personally support their needs? What kind of daily coaching and inspiration can you offer?
The answers to these questions should help guide you towards the right kind of critical thinking training program for your team and also help you mentally prepare for the commitment you are making to their skill improvement.
What’s the first step you took toward improving the critical thinking skills in your team?
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.