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Do Your Employees Think for Themselves?

By: Florence Stone

To train employees to think critically and come up with their own solutions to work-related problems:

Turn employees’ questions back to them. When they bring a problem to you, don’t be so quick to offer a solution. Even if the answer is obvious to you, ask the individual, “What do you think you should do?” Then listen to his or her answer and avoid commenting until the individual is finished. You may need to ask some follow-up questions in order to get the employee to think of a solution.

Encourage individual members to go back to consult with other members of the team. Instead of providing answers, suggest your employees seek advice from co-workers who may have had the same situation to deal with. Cement the team by having them work together to seek out an answer.

Address negative response by those who refuse to accept responsibility for decision making. Yes, there are employees who prefer a 9-to-5 job with little responsibility and not making decisions or solving ongoing problems. However, as their manager, it is your responsibility to encourage them to take on responsibility

About the Author(s)

Florence Stone is editorial director for American Management Association.