I frequently train leaders and the topic of thinking outside the box comes up. I’ve noticed that almost everyone believes they are an outside of the box thinker but are they really? There is a disconnect in the real world, where people adhere to the policies and procedures manuals far more often than finding alternative ways to resolve challenges.
Take employee misconduct for example. I often hear that the first thing leaders and companies do when an employee misbehaves in any way is to begin the disciplinary process. There are any number of verbal and written warnings culminating in the serious talk in the office prior to termination. The challenge for leaders and managers is to move beyond this inside the box thinking to truly adapting situationally. It’s possible to do, you just have to think outside the box.
Ask yourself the following questions to get a sense for whether you think outside the box. The answers to these questions will help you begin looking at things in different ways.
- An employee behaves badly. What is an alternative way to deal with the infraction without starting the verbal and written reprimands.
- What is a non-punitive way I can deal with employee misconduct?
- In what ways do I review my policies on an ongoing basis?
- What are the results of my policies?
- What can I do to veer away from standard policies?
- What is one “outside the box” thing I did today?
- What is the box?
- What do I need to do to get out of the box?
- What will the benefits be when I get out of the box?
- In what ways will I improve as a leader/manager/employee?
There is no mystery to thinking outside the box. It just requires shifting one’s outlook from what’s always done to what could be done. Thinking freely allows us to move beyond the fence to greener pastures we can explore and enjoy.