Are you a job candidate looking to land the perfect job? Or an employee aiming to climb the next rung on your career ladder?
Developing your critical thinking skills will make you a better candidate for that new job or that promotion.
The words “critical thinking” frequently pop up in job descriptions and on adjective lists for resume-writing, so it’s clearly a desirable characteristic.
What Is Critical Thinking?
Thinking critically is the ability to analyze a concept objectively, considering the facts and differing perspectives to reach a sound, logical conclusion.
The reason critical thinking is a skill—and not just an automatic thought process—is because most people naturally think “uncritically,” making decisions based on personal biases, self-interest, or irrational emotions. Everyone is vulnerable to this type of simplistic thinking—it’s human nature.
However, there are ways to improve your thought process to be more intentional about thinking critically.
How to Think Critically
Developing your critical thinking skills will help you become a valued member of any team—at work, at school, or anywhere that solid decision-making skills are needed.
Here are some ways to improve your critical thinking skills:
- Know your biases and try to look past them
- Ask questions and gather information
- Evaluate the facts of the situation and all available data
- Collaborate and get feedback from others—especially people with different backgrounds to your own
- Generate possible solutions, particularly out-of-the-box ideas
- Consider the short- and long-term consequences of implementing each solution
Impress Employers With Your Critical Thinking Skills
Employers value workers who know how to think critically. Critical thinkers bring creative solutions to the table and help businesses to innovate and remain competitive.
Critical thinking examples exist in every part of the workplace, from the corporate executive offices to the sales floor. Whether you’re the boss or an intern, knowing how to think critically gives you the power to make positive contributions to the company.
Here are some critical thinking examples in different job positions.
As team leaders, managers are role models for their direct reports. How managers analyze problems influences how their team members will handle issues going forward. Managers that use critical thinking processes foster teams that are intentional about assessing problems and devising solutions.
A business analyst’s job is to evaluate data and make informed decisions regarding a company’s performance. Careful critical thinking can uncover innovative solutions to address issues that come up and to boost business growth in the future.
Human Resources Specialist
Workers in the human resources department are responsible for hiring new talent, determining which employees get pay raises and deciding appropriate consequences for workers who have violated company policy. Each of those situations requires deliberate critical thinking on the part of human resources specialists, who literally have the power to make or break a colleague’s career.
Well-developed critical thinking skills are vital to the marketing team’s ability to create and manage successful marketing campaigns. Marketing associates must be able to gather and analyze demographic information about an organization’s target audience in order to know how to reach customers effectively when promoting the brand.
Sales Agent and Customer Service Representative
Customer service reps and sales agents have the most direct contact with clients. The ability to think critically enables both groups of workers to satisfy customers’ needs. For instance, if a disgruntled customer storms into a store to complain about a faulty product, a critically thinking customer service associate can get to the root of the problem and suggest possible solutions to the client, who can then choose the best option and leave on a positive note.
Written by Jessica L. Mendes.
Even the mainstream training field is realizing that reduced layers of bureaucracy mean decision-making gets pushed down the organization chart. This is the message of the AMA in the promotional video – Critical Thinking: Not just a C-suite skill. However, wirearchy takes this one important step further by advocating a two-way flow of power and authority. In both cases, the need for critical thinking is evident. Here is Edward Glaser’s definition:
“Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends. It also generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions and generalizations, to put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives, to reconstruct one’s patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and to render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life.”
A personal knowledge mastery process can help to develop critical thinking skills, where sense-making includes observing, studying, challenging (especially one’s assumptions), and evaluating. Developing these skills takes practice, appropriate feedback and an environment that supports critical thinking.
Several web tools can be used to develop critical thinking skills; the foundation of PKM:
Flattening the organization is one way to open communications and delegate responsibility but asking employees to engage in real critical thinking, and accepting the resulting actions, will not work unless there is a two-way flow of power and authority. Critical thinking is not just thinking more deeply but also asking difficult and discomfiting questions. Without power and authority, these become meaningless.
So yes, critical thinking is not just for the C-suite, but unleashing it requires a new framework for getting work done. Wirearchy as the organizational framework, coupled with active personal knowledge management processes, is a step in that direction.