Are you someone that needs time to think? Do you find yourself not saying much in meetings because you are thinking about all the things people are saying? Do you find yourself leaving a meeting and still thinking about the conversations later in the day?
Recently, I was working with two teams that had team members who are great thinkers. These individuals rarely contribute to the group conversations. Yet, if I talked to them 30 minutes after the meeting, they had brilliantly crystallized their thoughts and woven together the critical themes of the team conversation. These powerful thinkers use their intellect to think big and think strategically but they need time to stitch it all together.
As Managers, we often overlook the wisdom and insights of our great thinkers. It is easy to move quickly to decision but if we integrate even a little bit of time for thinking, greater clarity can emerge for everyone.
Imagine yourself in a team meeting. Everyone in the room is bouncing ideas around on how to solve a challenge. Instead of calling on the people who have not spoken, push the pause button for everyone. Take 5 minutes and ask everyone to stop talking and write down the most important theme they’ve heard. Ask them to answer these questions: What do we need to do more of? (Green Light) What do we need to do less of? (Yellow Light) What do we need to stop doing? (Red Light). After 5 minutes go around the table and ask everyone to contribute.
A client in a conservation organization provided me with another example of how to leverage the talents and wisdom of a great thinker. As a supervisor, this client was juggling many balls every day. He often had to make quick decisions. He had one staff member that frustrated him because he always responded by saying, “let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.” My client decided that instead of pushing his staff member to decide quickly, he would say, “I have a bunch of things I need to do right now and I’m going to come back in 10 minutes and I’d like to discuss______X____________.” This simple strategy allowed my client to keep going at his pace, his staff member to go at his pace and have time to think, and the conversations to be far more productive.
Who in your life needs time to think? What can you do to support this person just by creating some thinking time? Let me know what works for you.