Developing the human resources in your company is about so much more than formal training, says HR expert, Andrew Jones. It is about challenging your employees and letting them reflect. Mentoring and monitoring them. And encouraging them to practise slow thinking.
Fast thinking is a good thing. Right? You are a success, if you think fast and make swift decisions. We speed date, speed walk and speed dial. In a culture of speed, it seems like the main criteria for success is how fast we get things done.
Well, tables are turning, and just like in the tale of the race between the hare and the tortoise, what’s fast off the line isn’t necessarily the fastest across the finishing line. Quick decisions are necessary sometimes, of course, but often they turn out less accurate and less helpful. Slowing down certain parts of the process can help you think better.
Slow thinking encourages a different information processing technique: From the quick and reactive Amygdala to the slow and more reflective Frontal Lobe. The idea is such, that by changing which part of the brain you use, you simultaneously change how you think – and in turn change what you actually think about. The book ‘Thinking, Fast & Slow’ by the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate Daniel Kahneman describes the academic research behind the different methods of thinking.
5 simple ways to think slowly
#1 Distract yourself to incubate ideas.
If you find yourself thinking a lot about a certain issue, it can take up a lot of mental energy – and won’t get you anywhere closer to a solution. Give your brain some time to ruminate on it by doing something completely different, like going for a run or taking a small nap. Your mind will continue to work on the problem subconsciously – and often it will turn out rewarding to give your brain some time to incubate an idea.
#2 Pay closer attention
When we pay attention, time passes by slower. That’s why a trip to a place unknown seems to take a lot longer than the time going back from that same place. Time seems to slow down when we pay attention to more things and when our attention shifts onto something novel. On the other hand, if you focus on just one thing, this will speed up time. The more engaged we become, the faster we perceive time moving, neuroscience shows. Use this knowledge to slow down your thinking.
#3 Write your thoughts down
Since writing long hand is a slower process than writing on a computer it can help you slow down. This will help you get closer to ideas that you might not be aware of or quickly dismissed in the past. The discipline of formulating a though in writing requires that we define it, and this will often get you closer to the substance.
#4 Illustrate by drawing pictures
A picture is worth 1000 words. Often ideas flow better when we draw them, just as well as concepts and dynamics are easier explained and interpret when drawn. No matter the goal of the drawing, a few lines along with some childish doodling will help you and your employers in the process of thinking more slowly.
#5 Kickstart your system with metaphors
Using metaphors activates your brain – and not only the cerebral cortex’s cognitive and sensory networks, but also the limbic system’s affective and motivational networks. In other words: Metaphorical thinking is a great way to think more slowly. And if it’s hard, start out with easy themes like car or sports metaphors.
Challenge your employees
In the field of human resources, training people to make better decisions through techniques like slow thinking and implementing new ways of doing things, are essential. Andrew Jones, an expert in Human Resources at IME Mini MBA course , and a passionate organizational developer, leader and teacher, is a supporter of slow thinking.
With 25 years of global leadership experience, the Asia-based Mr. Jones pays close attention on how to teach new methods, and how organizations spread new knowledge and learn.
There are various ways to accomplish this goal. First of all, Mr. Jones lays emphasis on managements role in challenging the employees.
“Good managers keep their employees on the edge of their competency and encourage them to step beyond. That’s how their staff learn. That is an essential HR concept for developing organisational capability.” Mr. Jones explains.
Learning is reflecting
Andrew Jones, who is also a Teacher and Career Counsellor at Singapore Management University and INSEAD on their Master’s programs, underlines that learning is about reflection, feedback and having a plan.
By monitoring employees’ professional development on a frequent basis, providing feedback, and letting people reflect on their actions the learning process becomes more efficient.
Learning is about more than formal training and courses – this makes up less than 10% of the knowledge we acquire. No, a great source of learning is reflection. And this is why, Andrew Jones explains, that reflection is so valuable. Giving the employees time to reflect about their experiences the past week – and what they will do differently the next time.
Some might think that it’s important merely to provide detailed feedback on failures. But according to Mr. Jones, success is equally as important to study in a learning process.
Mentor and coach
If you want to develop the human resources in your company, it requires both mentoring and coaching, Andrew Jones says, and explains the differences:
Coaching is a technique independent of domain. There is no need for specific knowledge because a coach can ask naive and simple questions, whereas a mentor is someone who combines skills with domain knowledge. They are effective because they know their industry, but unfortunately also tend to share their own blindness in the industry – and hence often fail to come up with new solutions.
This is a place where slow thinking comes in handy. Encourage your employees to better understand their thinking and how this affects our behaviour – in order to avoid the automatic responses that normally dictates thoughts and feelings. This will make you and your employees able to carefully contemplate, ruminate, and take a longer-term view on things.
Sources: Bostonglobe.com, Fastcompany.com, Learygates.com