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In the 2018 Future of Jobs Report published by the World Economic Forum, critical thinking been identified as one of the skills that is increasingly required in the workplace. This report underscores the relevance of critical thinking skills at work. As simple as the term may seem, many people do not have a thorough understanding of it. It is often seen as not very different from conventional thinking which we all engage in on a daily basis. In that sense, we can all be said to possess critical thinking skills but unfortunately, that is not the case.

Let's consider a scenario where two individuals are faced with similar situations that pose a huge challenge to them. At the end of the day, one of them might handle it much better than the other due to certain skills that he or she possesses. In a tense situation involving persons in a state of fury, someone who is high on emotional intelligence might deal with the situation in a better way. Also, when faced with a daunting task or complex problem, an individual with excellent critical thinking ability might be able to produce a workable solution. It can therefore be seen that certain soft skills can make a world of difference in the workplace.

Critical thinking is the ability of a person to think clearly and rationally about an idea, problem or any other form of natural or artificial phenomena. It is a vital skill for employees and managers, regardless of their position in the organizational hierarchy. Critical thinking enables you to make a reasoned argument based on sound information and the right perspective. Having a well-thought out argument means that you have done sufficient critical thinking and considered the issue from different viewpoints. In our ever-changing world where organizations are faced with multi-faceted problems, managers need to be able to put on different thinking caps as they try to solve these problems. There are no two business problems that are exactly the same and so every problem requires a uniquely different approach and/or solution.

Critical thinking is a skill that can be developed and harnessed in an individual who is willing to make the effort. Critical thinking requires that an individual possesses certain requisite attributes - Critical thinking requires curiosity; an individual who does not want to know or understand more will be content with mere surface thinking. Critical thinking requires open-mindedness because one may have to abandon erroneous beliefs and viewpoints in the light of superior facts and knowledge. Critical thinking requires scepticism as a means of asking the right questions and seeking to get to the root of the matter.

Being a concept that is not thoroughly understood by many, there are quite a number of misconceptions about critical thinking. These include:

  • Critical thinking does not inhibit creative thinking in any way, they complement each other. While creative thinking can help generate new ideas or solutions, critical thinking can be used to evaluate the workability of such ideas or solutions.
  • Critical thinking does not necessarily make a person an expert in winning arguments or persuading people, even though it enhances our ability to communicate effectively.
  • Critical thinking is not about accumulating lots of information but making the best possible use of the information at our disposal by giving them some serious thought. Philosophy is the mother of all disciplines and critical thinking is a skill that was highly valued by philosophers’ centuries ago.
  • Critical thinking is still a premium skill in the present day workplace and will most likely remain so in the near future.
  • Critical thinking is essentially about combining explicit and implicit information in order to make a sound and objective decision. It is a skill that is needed by working professionals regardless of their profession. Both private and public sector organizations are faced with all manners of challenges, many of which require critical thinking to solve.
  • Critical thinking can benefit an organization and its people by helping to examine corporate goals and the strategies and tactics outlined for achieving them. It is not enough to deploy a strategy that has worked for your company in the past or is working for a competitor in the present, every single bit of that strategy should be laid bare. Assess relevant issues in the business environment especially opportunities and threats that may affect the company both now and in the years to come. A negligible issue in the present could assume a significant status in the future. Offer a sound argument in favour of a decision that has been taken or a plan that is in the pipeline. Unless a manager is able to make a logical business case for a proposed project, senior management may not give approval, funding or support. Examine business problems and decisions in a factual and objective manner.

Any business decision that is ill-grounded is an accident waiting to happen. Business decisions should be based on reliable information rather than bias or sentiments. Rethink the status quo and the way things are done at the moment. This may lead us to asking some pertinent questions - did we adopt this policy or procedure because our competitor did? Are there ways to cut down on costs without compromising quality? What are the future consequences of this project that we have not taken into consideration? Critical thinking can show us the relevance of and relationships between different ideas and concepts in our attempt to tackle a problem. It is also important to be able to separate facts from fiction and read between the lines to identify subtle contradictions and inconsistencies. It can therefore be seen that critical thinking is useful for solving problems in a practical and systematic manner. This is probably the reason why employers and recruiters alike have a preference for prospective employees who demonstrate critical thinking ability.

Most aptitude tests during job interviews are not meant to test the candidate's ability to retain information but are intended to assess their critical thinking ability. As an employee climbs the organizational ladder to new heights, the need for critical thinking skills will increase. Typically, senior level managers engage in less physical work as their work requires mental effort to a greater degree. And a sizeable portion of this mental effort involves critical thinking. The outputs of their critical thinking including plans, strategies, policies, objectives and procedures will then be passed on to their subordinates for prompt execution. Critical thinking permeates virtually every aspect of a manager's job and is now needed more than ever in the workplace.


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How to Improve and Apply Critical Thinking Skills in the Workplace

In a time of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic , we tend to panic and become anxious. In these trying times, we have to make life-changing decisions. We also need to reassure other people, including our families. To do this, we should apply our critical thinking skills to allow us distinguish facts from a boatload of information.

Critical thinking is an important skill in crisis management. It helps us screen data, verify their accuracy, and make sound decisions. Likewise, critical thinking plays a vital role in competitive workplaces. A business should be able to adapt to innovations and changes in client demands. As such, employers look for candidates with excellent critical thinking and decision-making skills.

What is Critical Thinking? 

Critical comes from the Greek word kritikos that means discerning . So, contrary to popular belief, critical thinking does not refer to one’s attitude of being negative. Instead, it is how we ponder on all aspects of a certain case, even its small details. It is how we question and assess various kinds of data we receive.

Critical thinking refers to our ability to identify important mindsets and skills that help us decide effectively. In other words, it aims to determine reliable data and make reliable decisions. It covers mindset and skills that can be developed by comprehending key concepts, practices, and applications. Through critical thinking, you can analyze your thoughts as well as collect evidence that supports your ideas. In this way, you avoid taking your personal reasoning as adequate proof.

When you have well-developed critical thinking skills, you can gain many benefits. For example, you can gather accurate data. You can empathize with other’s points of view. In addition, you can effectively communicate and solve problems.

How Can You Think Critically? 

To be able to think critically, follow a highly systematic critical thinking process:

Here are specific steps in a critical thinking process:

Through these steps, we can hone our critical thinking skills to solve problems. In turn, our self-confidence and self-worth improve. These skills not only help us deal with future issues more efficiently; they also expand our experiences.

team solving problem in the office

What are the Important Critical Thinking Skills?

The most important critical thinking skills are described below:

1. Observation

Observation is the first aspect of critical thinking. Observant people can identify a new problem right away. They can also understand why something may be a problem. They may even be able to anticipate when a problem might occur based on their experience.

2. Analysis

This skill is vital after you have identified a problem. Your ability to examine a situation allows you to determine crucial facts about the problem. This involves collecting unbiased data, asking relevant questions, and objectively analyzing the findings.

3. Inference

With this skill, you can draw conclusions based on the gathered data. To apply this skill, you may need technical knowhow. To infer, you create answers based on limited data. For example, an IT tech support may infer the cause of system issues based on available information.

4. Communication

Communication is needed so that you can explain complex issues to your colleagues and other stakeholders and offer potential solutions. It can be applied to many work-related aspects, including critical thinking.

5. Problem Solving

This skill involves resolving the problem. With critical thinking, you can apply the best option. You can also confirm if your solution is indeed effective based on the outcome.

6. Self-Regulation

To self-regulate entails self-consciousness. It allows you to assess cognitive or thinking activities, the essential factors, and the obtained results. It is also divided into two sub-skills: self-examination and self-correction.

How Can You Apply Critical Thinking to Your Career? 

Once you have joined the workforce , you can develop and hone your critical thinking skills. Critical thinkers ask sensible questions. They propose novel ideas and think outside the box. They also offer innovations. This is why they have an edge over their colleagues who don’t have these traits.

Regardless of your role, you are a valuable team member when you have these skills. Here are some examples of careers that require critical thinking:

How Will You Include Critical Thinking Skills on Your Resume? 

You may consider including the critical thinking skills described above on your resume and even discuss them in your interview.

1. Customize your skills and pass the applicant tracking system.

When selecting the skills to include in your resume, you need to check the required skills for a particular job. If critical thinking is needed, then it should be one of the top skills highlighted in your resume .

You can also create a resume skills section. In this section, use keywords related to critical thinking, and organize the content so that it can be easily read. You may opt to use a bulleted list that can be quickly scanned. You can further describe them in complete sentences in your work history.

2. Reframe your resume to include your skills in other parts.

After making a list of your critical thinking and other skills , you should highlight them in your work history and other sections. You can provide concrete examples of how you used your skills to complete a task. Use impactful verbs such as “identified,” “analyzed,” and “managed.”

For instance, if you needed to create a logo for a new brand, you could say that you examined the competition and interviewed potential clients. You even assessed past sales data to come up with a design. Then, you could also provide good outcomes, such as sales growth, to emphasize your success.

3. Highlight your critical thinking skills in interviews.

Interviewers ask for evidence on how you have shown your critical thinking skills. Before your interview, think about how you solved a complex problem in your past jobs. During your interview, describe how you identified and assessed a problem. Moreover, include how you came up with solutions and resolved the problem.

job seeker including critical thinking skills on her resume

Examples of Critical Thinking Skills on Resumes 

Here are some examples on how you can include your critical thinking skills in your resume :

Critical Thinking Skills in Nursing 

Critical Thinking Skills in Science and Research

Critical Thinking Skills in Engineering

How Can You Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills at Work?

Practical Tips on Improving Your Critical Thinking Skills

team brainstorming to resolve problems

Critical Thinking Interview Questions

During your interview, interviewers assess your critical thinking skills. They ask questions related to your ability to evaluate information effectively and efficiently. They may also give hypothetical situations to see how you make a sound decision. There is neither right nor wrong answer to such interview questions . However, interviewers will check if you are innovative and able to provide thought-out solutions.

How Can You Ace Your Critical Thinking Test in an Interview?

To provide an answer that includes exactly what your interviewer is looking for, you may consider the following aspects: situation/problem, task/role in that situation, your actions, and results you obtained.

1. Describe the situation or problem that you faced.

Craft your answer by including:

In addition, clearly explain the context of the problem. Include relevant details about why you need your critical thinking skills in that specific problem.

2. Discuss your specific role.

Provide vital details, such as specific tasks. Explain your task that led to solving the problem. You may consider the following guide questions:

3. Specify and describe the actions you applied to solve the problem in detail.

You may indicate

4. Complete your answer by describing the results of your actions.

When doing so, you need to make sure that you showcase your strengths. Highlight your positive outcomes and learning experiences. You may describe

applicant answering job interviewer showing her critical thinking skills

Sample Answer to a Critical Thinking Interview Question

Question: Could you describe a situation wherein you had to solve a challenging problem at work?

1. Describe the Situation/Problem

I worked as a business development manager at YXZ Software. I was the one who organized all client events and conferences. Given that our company was a major player in the IT market, we invited experts to talk about market developments during our events. We held these events to meet new clients and maintain our relationship with our existing ones. 

2. Discuss Your Specific Role/Task

We examined our participant data and found a 10% decrease in our event attendance. We also discovered a decrease in the retention rate of our clients. So for our next event, my team and I had to promote our event. Our goal was to increase our attendance levels and stay successful. 

3. Specify Your Action

I already had an idea why these values decreased, but I still needed more data. So I interviewed our sales consultants. Most of them suggested that we should use social media channels to attract new clients. Our marketing team brainstormed about this, and we decided to ask our client base about what they would like to experience in our next events. 

Through our dialog, we gained new ideas, and we received suggestions on how to enhance our networking possibilities. Then, I proposed a new action plan based on our research and feedback to promote our events through our social media channels and gain more exposure. 

4. Describe the Results 

After our marketing campaign launch, we had an increased presence online. Our advance registrations also increased. For that specific event, our attendance was 30% higher than that in the previous year. 

We also conducted an online survey. We were glad that our attendees were satisfied with the structure of the new event. Most of the respondents also indicated that they would likely recommend our events within their network. Thus, my approach successfully increased the attendance at our events. Our director even asked me to present how I dealt with this problem to the board.

This answer is an example of a strong critical thinking skill because of the following:

brainstorming to resolve problem

Critically Think About Your Answers with the Help of Experts 

Right now, we are faced with constant yet unpredictable changes. This is why critical thinking is a major skill for the future workforce . It involves linking important concepts and ideas. So, critical thinkers can often systematically and easily solve problems. They can also prioritize the most relevant concepts related to their ideas.

In your job interview, your answers to critical thinking interview questions are keys to successfully impressing your interviewer. Ensure that you showcase your critical thinking skills and personality. Hence, you need to prep your answers and be confident when you present yourself to your recruiter. Aside from answers to interview questions, job interview strategies are essential aspects of your job search success.

Apply Critical Thinking Skills in Looking for the Best Resume Writing Firms 

A lot of resume writing services are available online. Practice how you can apply your critical thinking skills to select the best online resume writing firm . Contact us today to know more on how we can include your critical thinking skills on your resume. You can critically assess our resume services to know which one is the most suitable for you.

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applying critical thinking in the workplace

applying critical thinking in the workplace

What is Critical Thinking in the Workplace?

Critical thinking is one of the most highly sought after skills in the workplace. Critical thinking skills allow a person to analyse information, arrive at conclusions and make sound decisions. Applying critical thinking in the workplace is an essential skill everyone should be trying to improve. It can set you apart as a leader, improve the quality of your work, and the perception those higher up the chain have of you. So what is critical thinking, and why is it important in the workplace?

Although it sounds negative, critical thinking is not about being cynical or resistant. Critical thinking in the workplace is a deeper level of thinking where we question, analyse and draw conclusions about information and evidence. According to the  Cambridge Dictionary , the definition of critical thinking is "the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you." Essentially this means to think about something without falling prey to personal bias or doing things the way they have always been done.

Top companies are placing increasing importance on critical thinking skills in business. Business success depends on a person's ability to learn quickly and perform in jobs requiring decision making and problem-solving. To keep up with the rapid advancements in technology and rapidly changing business environments, businesses need critical thinkers to make reliable decisions and ensure the company moves forward.

Why is Critical Thinking Important in the Workplace?

Critical thinking skills are valuable in all roles in an organisation. These skills enhance communication, creativity and problem-solving. Thinking critically in the workplace allows you to connect ideas, evaluate arguments, find errors and solve complex issues. The workplace is packed with situations that require teams and individuals to approach complex problems and solve them using new and innovative approaches. Employees who can communicate and relate with coworkers, develop strategies and overcome issues are more likely to succeed. 

Critical thinking is especially important in three areas of business:

Leaders often need to think critically when making decisions that impact the business. They need to employ critical thinking skills when considering situations and weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of possible solutions. Critical thinking is an essential skill for successful leadership.

Problem Solving

Problems arise within all organisations daily. Some have a straightforward solution, whereas others require a more complex approach. As a business leader or employee, it's essential to think critically when facing more significant issues. Thinking critically will enable you to produce several alternative solutions to a problem, ensuring that the decision made is best for the company overall. 

Enhances Communication

There is a strong link between critical thinking and communication. Applying critical thinking skills to communication allows you to consider the perspectives of others, anticipate how they might respond and formulate the most appropriate response. This leads to effective communication and improves productivity.

How to Improve Critical Thinking in the Workplace

Here are the top three ways to improve critical thinking skills in the workplace to become a more effective employee:

Ask Questions

Consider the Source

Questioning is an essential skill to develop if you are trying to perfect your critical thinking skills. When presented with a problem, asking questions will help you understand and evaluate it. Questioning is a great way to learn more about a situation and help expand how you think about things.

Uncovering the source of information can help you understand the motivation or perspectives behind it. When learning or problem-solving, you should consider the source's motivation and evidence to support their argument. Examine if there may be other possible solutions or perspectives.

Once you have questioned the new information and considered multiple perspectives, you need to form your own opinion and act on the information. If it's a common issue or situation, you can research using the internet or discuss it with others who have also encountered the same problem. Search for reputable information from sources like news sites, educational institutions and nonprofit organisations

How to Measure Critical Thinking

There are several critical thinking tests to measure critical thinking skills in the workplace. The most applicable test to the workplace is a reasoning test. Reasoning skills play an essential role in workplace tasks requiring different elements of intelligence like critical thinking, problem-solving and tasks involving creativity. A reasoning test enables employers to assess critical thinking skills in the workplace.

Critical thinking and reasoning processes require active and thorough processing of information by collecting, analysing, conceptualising, combining and assessing it. Many jobs performed in organisations require these skills. Although we can develop these skills, a person with advanced reasoning skills is likely to perform more effectively in tasks requiring reasoning skills, such as critical thinking.

Every person is unique, and so are our reasoning skills. Genetics, education and intelligence all contribute to our level of reasoning skills. A reasoning or cognitive ability test is designed to assess critical thinking skills. The reasoning test will produce an assessment of our current level of reasoning skills, what this might look like in practice and which reasoning skills we may want to develop. As we can learn any other skills, we can also learn reasoning skills if we want to.

Examples of Critical Thinking the Workplace

There are many critical thinking in the workplace examples. Some of them we do regularly and may not identify them as critical thinking skills. 

Employees in the construction industry or in health and safety departments often need to complete risk assessments. This requires them to consider the situation before them, identify potential hazards and predict areas that may produce a level of risk. Risk assessments require employees to think critically about the information from multiple perspectives, such as the types of contractors entering the site, evaluate possible risks and overcome these problems

Multiple roles and industries require the analysis of data. These include accountants, business analysts and marketing strategists. While digital applications can collate large data, only humans can analyse and interpret what the data may be telling us. For example, a digital marketing strategist looks at website data, infers what it means, and develops a strategy to improve. This process requires marketing strategists to apply critical thinking skills to evaluate the situation.

One of the fundamental elements of critical thinking is being able to look at a situation objectively. This is also fundamental in recruitment. Recruiters and HR Managers need to analyse several CVs and other information objectively to identify the ideal candidate for the role. Demonstrating the ability to hire without considering age, gender, and other factors shows the ability to think critically. 

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How to Encourage Critical Thinking in the Workplace

How to Encourage Critical Thinking in the Workplace

business analyst creativity

Critical thinking is a popular buzzword on resumes and in job descriptions. Managers want employees who can make their own decisions or take information and process it strategically.

Despite the demand for critical thinking, several hiring managers believe it’s lacking in the current workforce. However, critical thinking isn’t necessarily a skill that modern employees lack, but rather a skill they seldom use.

Here are a few reasons why critical thinking is forgotten in the workplace — and how managers can help bring it back.

Toxic Work Environments Limit Critical Thinking

Bad work environments stifle critical thinking by demotivating employees. Why should your team members try to come up with creative solutions when they’re just going be to shot down or told to follow previous procedures?

As a manager, you could be actively discouraging your team members from stretching their critical thinking skills without even knowing it. Below are a few signs that you’re creating an environment that’s hostile toward strategic problem-solving.  

You’re Too Busy

When employees are pressured to constantly reach their next deadlines or quotas without any breaks or time for reflection, they tend to carve out the most comfortable paths to those goals. And the path of least resistance seldom leads to innovation or company growth. 

"Everyone is incredibly busy, and often we believe that we don't have the time to really think through an issue," Jen Lawrence tells Business News Daily. However, jumping to conclusions leads to uninformed decisions, which can turn into poor time investments, temporary solutions, and mistakes when your team doesn’t fully understand what the problem is.

You’re Set In Your Ways

Some of us get so comfortable with our current ways of doing things that we don’t want to change how things are done. However, more companies are investing in strategic thinking processes to encourage employees to thoroughly work through a problem and critically understand the issue at hand. 

“Thinking strategically is not an unrealistic expectation; neither is it a mind boggling process or age dependent,” Mary Lippitt writes at the Association for Talent Development. “What really limits strategic perspective is a reliance on habit, past practice, and limited expectations.”

Employees who can’t think creatively or challenge the status quo will stop innovating. This will stagnate an organization’s growth and create a toxic work environment. Over time, top employees will inevitably leave to work someplace where their creativity is rewarded.

You Assume the Worst

Matthew Estes at Mars Gone Mad writes that some managers have a habit of assuming the worst possible outcome of any new situation. Any time a new employee wants to try a new method, explore a new channel or solve a problem differently, the management team is so nervous about failing that they reject the plan outright.

Thinking out potential negative outcomes isn’t bad as long as managers also think about the best possible outcomes. This helps them identify risk factors but also decide whether the risk is worth it.

“It helps to have a structured approach to think through the possibility of a bad outcome from the decisions you make,” Bruna Martinuzzi writes. “Success isn't about avoiding risks; rather, it's about knowing how to mitigate potential risks.”

When employers take time to evaluate a situation instead of jumping to conclusions, they can make better decisions in the workplace. This also creates a healthier work environment for the people around you.  

You’re Too Focused on Your Own Department

Managers often meet to discuss company changes and review how potential plans will affect their departments. They’re called to the meeting to be a voice for their departments and aren’t typically expected to solve the problems of others. While their expertise is beneficial to the company, it can also be limiting if a group of managers or VPs can’t see beyond their own goals.

Carey-Ann Oestreicher encourages leaders to approach meetings with the goal of helping the company as a whole and working with other managers to grow their departments. This can help you grow allies in the company and increase your support system — as opposed to approaching multi-departmental meetings with an “us-versus-them” mentality.

In fact, managers can take this concept of multi-departmental collaboration a step further by introducing more diversity in project work groups and discussions. Sarah Neal at CatMedia writes that employees with different professional backgrounds can bring unique solutions to the table and see situations differently.

When you put a diverse group of people in a room together, they approach problems from different ways. This leads to different problem-solving methods and, in most cases, more creative solutions.

How Managers Can Become Critical Thinkers

business analyst office

It’s never too late to build your critical thinking skills. Here are a few steps managers can take to do just that, and then pass those skills on to their teams.

Thoroughly Evaluate New Situations

Misinformation and assumptions can limit critical thinking and lead to terrible decisions.

“When people face a problem, they tend to jump into solution mode too rapidly, and very often that means that they don’t really understand, necessarily, the problem they’re trying to solve,” Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg writes at the Harvard Business Review.

In many ways, office environments have become so focused on solutions that managers aren’t getting all the information they need to come up with the best answers.

To prevent this, Chris Ruisi provides four questions that every manager should start a discussion with when they’re trying to better understand a new situation:

What happened?

When did it occur?

Why did it happen?

How did it happen?

Unless you have answers to all four of these questions, you’re not prepared to fully make a decision. Missing information could lead to incorrect assumptions or solutions that cause more problems than you initially thought.

Look at the Problem From Different Angles

Another roadblock preventing managers from thinking critically is when they have a limited perspective of the problem. As a solution, Tawny Lees offers the Zoom In/Zoom Out method developed by Rosabeth Moss Kanter to better address problems. Zooming in means taking a deeper look at the problem, while zooming out means taking a higher-level view and not getting caught up in details.

“Each should be vantage points, not fixed positions,” Lees writes. “Effective leaders both zoom in and zoom out for a complete picture.”

Reflect on Your Emotions Before You Act

business analyst department

The workplace can be a highly emotional place, and even logical managers can slip up and take action based on their emotions.

“Whenever you feel some negative emotion, systematically ask yourself: What, exactly, is the thinking leading to this emotion?” the experts at the Foundation for Critical Thinking write in a useful guide for better problem-solving and critical evaluation.

If you are angry, are you angry because of the actual problem or how it was hidden from you? Highlighting why you feel a certain way and factors that make you react emotionally can help you sort out a problem and come with logical solutions.

Focus On the Best Possible Outcomes

Critical thinking fails when managers are so focused on maintaining the status quo that they can’t work toward growth or improvement. John Hillen challenges leaders to focus on the best possible project outcome or company situation and work to achieve it.

“Most great strategies are pulled forward by a vision of an alternative future, not a same-future that is rationalized by the known data about the present,” Hillen writes. “When I lead strategic planning exercises I ... always start with the very different organization we want to be in the future. And then we start thinking about how to get there from here.”

Understand the Effects of Easy Solutions

One of the main reasons for bad policies or complex processes within a company is a lack of critical thinking about the solutions. For example, one employee might abuse a work-from-home policy, leading a manager to propose an easy solution: Ban working from home altogether.

“Policies are important to have in place to communicate expectations and ensure a safe, nondiscriminatory workplace,” the staff at DecisionHR writes. “But, policies should be made for the entire team, not for a few rule breakers.”

Choosing the easiest possible solution might cause frustration for employees or create confusing and cumbersome processes that annoy everyone in the office. Critical thinking helps managers come up with plans that solve problems without creating overbroad rules.  

How Managers Can Grow Their Employees’ Critical Thinking Skills

business analyst glasses

Along with improving their own critical thinking skills, managers can work to foster an environment that encourages creative problem solving and improvement. This creates a healthy workplace where employees can constantly work to improve the way things are done.

Invite Questions and Open Discussions

Newer employees, lower-level employees, and younger employees often struggle to make their opinions heard within their companies. They either don’t speak up because of their lower positions or aren’t able to speak with senior managers. By giving workers at all levels opportunities to speak up, critical thinking skills are less likely to get stifled. 

“Some employers may not appreciate new hires questioning their long-established business practices, but I would argue that hiring people who ask questions and want to understand the reasons behind decisions and business processes are vital for any company,” Patrick Maggitti writes at US News.

A new intern might not know much about the job or industry, but the questions they ask and ideas they come up with could offer a much-needed perspective change in the company.

Work On A Different Critical Thinking Element at a Time

Dr. Mike Dash of Macat explains that critical thinking actually covers six key skills. While some managers struggle to define critical thinking and find opportunities to incorporate it into the workplace, these skills are commonly used throughout the day:


Creative thinking


Instead of managers asking employees to be better critical thinkers, they might focus on one of these six skills at a time in order to grow critical thinking skills as a whole.

Encourage Employees to Think Differently

Amy Elisa Jackson created a guide that decodes boss-speak, but it can also be used by managers to start internal discussions. For example, the phrase “I like how you’re thinking,” can be used as an opener for employees who are struggling to solve a problem.

As a manager, you might add more information to the situation which might change their conclusions, or challenge the employee to solve the problem a different way. The goal is to encourage their proactive problem solving and make your employees better at it with practice.

Many of your employees likely have strong critical thinking skills, and you can control whether they actually use them. By fostering an environment for discussions are creative problem solving, your team members can work to grow the company in the most effective ways possible.

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How to Use Critical Thinking in the Workplace

Resigning to Work for a Competitor

How to handle a customer service breakdown, how to handle stressful situations in customer service.

Critical thinking in the workplace can make the difference between being just good enough and outshining the competition. Even the largest budget or most extensive knowledge won't have much impact if you don't make the most of it. If employees and the company employ critical thinking consistently, however, the entire organization can work more effectively and productively.

If you're stuck on a problem, consider it from another person's point of view to give you the insight you need to find an effective and innovative solution. Use critical thinking to get inside the mind of your customers or clients so you can improve the products or services you offer them. You may find you've overlooked a valuable feature you can add to attract more buyers. If you're seeking ways to improve employee retention or minimize workplace conflict, take a moment to think about the work environment and how it affects employees. If you put yourself in their shoes, you may realize they don't have sufficient creative freedom or that they'd be happier with more opportunities for collaboration.

Instead of solving work issues symptomatically, use critical thinking to drill down to the very root of the problem. If you receive ongoing customer complaints, offering an apology or a discount may resolve individual claims, but may not reduce the frequency of customer grievances. Instead, examine every aspect of how your product or service is delivered and how employees interact with customers. If you scrutinize the situation, you may realize the issue isn't with your product, but with how it's marketed to customers. If company salespeople don't adequately explain how the product works, buyers may be dissatisfied because it wasn't what they expected. In this case, you can train your salespeople to better relate to customers and help them understand how the product can benefit them.

Instead of opting for a quick fix, use critical thinking to evaluate the long-term consequences of any business decision. An option may look attractive in the short term, but could have unintended and potentially disastrous consequences months or years later. Rather than focusing on how many customers a promotion might attract temporarily, examine its future effects, as well. You may realize you don't have the resources to support a large increase in customers, and that trying to meet the demand could strain the company. Or, you may determine you don't have a plan for turning these new prospects into loyal customers.

To remain competitive, use critical thinking to recognize opportunities and understand how to take advantage of them. This can help your company spot opportunities for growth, expansion or product development before anyone else, giving you a valuable edge in the marketplace. Regularly assess the changing needs of your target customers, as well as the offerings of your competitors. Even if what you're doing is working, don't be content to perpetually stick with the same formula. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities, even if you don't ultimately decide to pursue them. Consider recent events, such as technological advances, and how you can use them to attract customers or enhance your company's image.

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