By Steve C. Maxwell
So, here’s the deal. As we embark on a new year filled with possibilities and its attendant challenges, let’s do so with an open mind. Being open-minded gives us the leeway to embrace the vast differences that exist in life, which adequately gives us an abundance of opportunities to learn new things, grow mentally, and adopt to the only constant in life – change. It’s not easy to do, but it is doable!
Open-mindedness and Staff Productivity
But how does being open-minded relate to increased staff productivity? The simple truth is this: encouraging open-mindedness among your staff increases the chances of higher frequencies of creativity and innovation in the workplace. Creativity and innovation tend to stem from staff being more tolerant to ambiguity in the workplace since our environment changes ever so often. Embracing diversity is also another output of open-mindedness that fosters creativity and innovation. Learning to accept and appreciate others for who they are goes a long way in achieving organizational effectiveness. We are all different in some way or another, whether in culture, physique, nationality, religious views, socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicity, experiences, or otherwise; but we nevertheless bring a flair of rationality that uniquely balances out our individual shortcomings.
Steps to Encourage Open-mindedness
In encouraging your staff to embrace being open-minded, it pays to remember that there is no one size that fits all. Each organization is different and your approach has to be situational in order to maximize your success. As managers, we should, on a daily basis, strive to bring out the very best in our employees by seeking ways that will help them to grow. But, how can you achieve this? Here are a four tips that may just prove to be useful.
- Develop an internal cultural exchange program for your organization. This strategy depends on a few organizational key factors: type, size, strategic direction, location, financial prowess, operational flexibility, and existing culture, to name a few. By using this strategy, your employees stand to benefit from learning and appreciating new cultures, develop skill sets that are cross-cultural, work in new environments, and make new friends, to say the least. Keeping in mind that cultures do exist within cultures.
- Develop training programs that are centered around critical thinking. It is known by many in the training and development field that close-mindedness is a function of one’s ability to utilize critical thinking strategies to effectively analyze a given situation. To this end, your training department becomes a handy ‘tool’ that should be used to effect changes that you so yearn for. Through your training department, if you have one, focus on ensuring most, if not all, of your training programs have elements of critical thinking that lend succinctly to embracing a culture that fosters open-mindedness.
- Lead from the front. There’s nothing more rewarding than to see managers lead by example. Too often we see managers telling their operatives to do things that run contrary to the manager’s actions. If you need your staff to become more open-minded, then you need to be open-minded, too. It’s that simple!
- ‘Nip it in the bud’. As soon as you realize that something is not going right, you should take the necessary steps to suppress or eliminate it. This holds true for those times when your staff may be acting in a close-minded way. For example, treating customers, internal and external alike, noticeably differently because of his or her ethnicity. In a situation like this, you need to take decisive action that will eliminate the possibility of unfair treatment towards the affected parties.
Until our next post, remember: Success is Personally Defined!