Critical thinking is important in every aspect of life, be it personal or professional. It helps individuals diagnose problems and find solutions that aren’t always obvious but effective. When it comes to the workplace, critical thinking can help in resolving conflicts, solving problems without bias and making the best decisions for the organization and its people. It enhances the quality of work as well as professional credibility. The skill is especially important during crisis where one needs to carefully analyze the situation and devise an effective solution to the problem. Considering the ongoing coronavirus crisis which has led to business disruption in multiple industries, the organization leaders need to put more emphasis on critical thinking to navigate through the uncertainties. Most of the employees are working remotely, many business activities have been restricted, there have been huge transformations in the way work was being done and the entire environment is quite demanding. In such trying times, it’s vital to improve your critical thinking skills to get the desired outcomes.
What is Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is defined as the ability to analyze a problem objectively, taking into consideration all the facts and different perspectives, to reach a logical decision. Many people make decisions based on personal biases, irrational emotions or self interest because such simplistic thinking is a human nature. Critical thinking is a key skill to be developed which improves one’s thought process, helping them reach a decision that is truly in the best interest of the concerned stakeholders. It also opens up the doorway to creative problem solving and open-mindedness.
It takes time to develop critical thinking because people are usually inclined to and comfortable with the traditional ways which often lead to time-wasting meetings, poor team interactions and inefficient use of efforts. However, thinking critically means analyzing the reasons behind a task or decision based on the available data and making a reasoned choice to make the processes more effective.
How to Apply Critical Thinking at Work?
Critical thinking helps you approach every situation with an open mind. You need to consider all the information available, also including the ones that do not align with your personal biases. This isn’t very easy but analyzing every fact independently is crucial. The next step is communicating your logic and decision to the stakeholders in a way that makes you convincing. Support your decision with facts and remember not everyone is capable of detaching themselves from their biases. You need to be creative while pushing boundaries and defying traditions. It involves determining what value your decision could bring and taking risk for it. Using critical thinking, your team can try out new and better ways of achieving targets without disrupting the system.
Why Critical Thinking is Absolutely Necessary at Work?
Critical thinkers are assets for any organization as they make the best decisions that benefit the organization in myriad ways. One can also work on career planning and development using the skill and, as a leader, can formulate effective leadership strategies. Critical thinking is a vital skill to look for when making a hiring decision. Assessing how an individual solves a problem isn’t very difficult and HR managers usually do this by asking them to solve a specific problem. Employees having critical thinking skills are problem solvers and emerge as leaders in the organization who are dependable and capable of accomplishing goals effectively with confidence and team-work.
Steps to Improve Critical Thinking Skills
Not everyone is a critical thinker but this skill can be developed with practice. Here are a few steps to hone your critical thinking skills:
- Focus on the goal you and your team want to achieve
- Identify your personal biases and emotions and keep them aside
- Ask questions and collect as much information as you can
- Analyze all the available data and facts
- Collaborate with relevant people and get their views and opinions
- Devise possible solutions and be creative in your approach
- Evaluate the short and long term consequences for each solution
- Make your decision based on the solution that benefits your organization and its people in best way
Critical thinking is an essential skill that not only helps an individual but also the organization to prosper in times of crisis and beyond. If you aspire to become a credible and valued employee or leader, start honing your critical thinking skills