8 Ways to Develop Better Management Common Sense

A manager and employee reviewing a report

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We all like to think we have common sense. After all, it’s “common,” so most people must have it, right? When we look around, it seems like we are often surrounded by people who lack common sense. But what is common sense, anyway? Most of us know it when we see it; more so, most of us have no problem pointing it out when it’s missing. According to Merriam-Webster, it is, "Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts."

When we think of someone who is lacking commons sense, we’re talking about the repeat offenders who, for whatever reason, seem to consistently make errors in judgment that most people wouldn’t make. But is common sense teachable or is it an innate trait?

We believe common sense can be learned. In fact, we don't buy into the notion that anyone is hardwired to be lacking in common sense. Try following the below steps as a guide to improving your own, or someone else’s, common sense. While different people will have different results with each of these steps, people can change if they want to and are willing to work at it.

Admit You Have a Problem

The first step—and the hardest and most important—is to recognize there’s a problem. With consistent and caring feedback, and after getting repeatedly burned, someone might have enough self-awareness to step forward and declare “I’m lacking common sense and I need help!” Without taking the first step, there’s no hope. You, your employee, or co-worker is doomed to a career full of boneheaded moves.

Slow Down

Many errors in judgment are a result of impulsive, hasty decisions. If you know you’ve got a problem with common sense, you need to sacrifice decision speed for decision quality. When in doubt, sleep on it.

Bite Your Tongue

If there is any doubt that what you’re thinking of saying might be taken the wrong way or get you in trouble, then don’t say it. Yes, you’ll be less talkative and less funny, but that’s a lot better than having your foot in your mouth all the time.

Get Feedback From Others

Before you send that email, have that conversation, spend that money, or make any decisions, seek out the advice of others. Test the decision with your manager, peers, direct reports, or anyone else that can give you honest, constructive feedback. Then, make sure you listen to that feedback.

Take a Personality Assessment

Take the DISCHogan, or some other credible personality assessment to identify your natural tendencies and biases, and how those tendencies may be influencing your analysis, judgment, and decision making. Even better, have a professional help you interpret the data.

Get a Coach

In this case, you may even want to get a coach with a clinical background—someone that can help you examine your thought process; a sounding board to test pending decisions and someone to slap you on the side of the head.

Find a Role Model

Find someone you admire that always seems to make the right decisions and ask how he or she does it. Walk through a number of examples of decisions they’ve made, and ask them to explain their thought process.

Engage in Self-Help

Read a few books on judgmentdecision-makingproblem-solving, and/or critical thinking.