Practical Guides to Developing Employee Critical Thinking Skills

February 19, 20202:40 pm3337 views
Practical Guides to Developing Employee Critical Thinking Skills
Practical Guides to Developing Employee Critical Thinking Skills

Employers should constantly develop their employees to meet the future skills. According to Udemy report, there is an essential need to train employees with technical skills. Meanwhile, for soft skills, there is an uptick in learning about topics like mindset, creativity, and innovation. Critical thinking, in this regard, tops the list of fastest-growing workplace soft skills in 2020. 

Critical thinking workforce: case study 

Critical thinking involves being able to use logic and reasoning to interrogate an issue or problem, consider various solutions to the problem, and weight up the pros and cons of each approach. Critical thinkers help businesses innovate and remain competitive and help employees contribute positively to corporations. 

In managerial roles, for example, managers should become a role model for direct reports to their employees. How managers analyse problems will influence how their team members handle issues going forward. When managers use critical thinking processes, they can foster teams that are intentional about assessing problems and devising solutions.  

As for HR specialists, critical thinking is so important to generate the right decisions that can impact all business stakeholder’s career. Critical thinking in HR roles also helps foster and build a better strategy for hiring talent, determining which employees get pay raises and deciding appropriate consequences for workers who have violated company policy.

See also: How to Get Your Employees Speak Their Minds?

Developing critical thinking in employees 

Given the fact that critical thinking is vital to business success, it is important for leaders to help employees create and develop their critical thinking skills. However, developing one is such a difficult task. Zarvana survey cited that most employers often lack an effective way to objectively assess critical thinking skills and most managers don’t know how to provide specific instruction to team members in need of becoming better thinkers. 

The difficulty in developing the thinking, nevertheless, can be demystified with these 4 approaches. These approaches are developed by Zarvana combining three research-backed models to cultivate a perfect result of critical thinking development in employees. 

Step 1 – Execute 

In this phase, team members simply do what they are asked to do. This might seem basic and even pre-critical thinking, yet, you should keep monitoring your employees. Then, ask the following three questions. If you answer yes to the following questions, it means that your employees are successful in cultivating verbal reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving training which are important for the next step. 

  • Do your employees complete all parts of their assignments? 
  • Do your employees complete them on time? 
  • Do your employees complete them at or close to your standard of quality? 

What if your employees failed? When your team member is struggling in this phase, make sure your team understands your instructions by asking them to rearticulate each assignment before they begin. Start by giving small assignments with an immediate deadline, increase the difficulty of assignments by time with an adjusted deadline. Once your team member starts making suggestions for how to improve their work, they have succeeded in achieving this phase. 

Step 2 – Synthesize 

This step is aimed to help improve employee’s decision making towards an important subject. You can train employees by allowing them to sort out a range of information and figure out what is important. If you answer yes for the following 4 questions, your training succeeds. 

  • Can your employees identify all the important insights? 
  • Do your employees exclude all unimportant insights? 
  • Do your employees accurately assess the relative importance of important insights? 
  • Can your employees communicate important insights clearly and succinctly? 

What if your employees failed? Try to give as many chances as possible to figure out important insights. You can also allow your employees to attend important executives and/or clients meetings to gain their insightful thinking skills. Alternatively, leaders can lead the said employees through resource-constrained thought experiments that force them to isolate the most important information. You might ask these questions to employees what if you could only share one insight, what is you only had 5 minutes, what if we only had a thousand dollars, for leading questions. 

Step 3 – Recommend 

You should move to this step once your employees succeed in step 2. In this phase, team members move from identifying what is important to determining what should be done. The goal is to consistently make recommendations that are well-founded, even if the recommendations are not aligned with your opinion. 

In this phase, you can start by requiring your team to make recommendations before you share your opinion. After that, ask your people to share their rationale, the alternatives they considered, and the downside of their recommendations. To assess, consider the following questions. 

  • Do your employees always provide a recommendation when asking your questions instead of relying on you to come up with answers? 
  • Do your employees demonstrate appreciation for the potential downsides of their recommendation? 
  • Do your employees consider alternatives before landing on a recommendation? 
  • Are your employees’ recommendations backed by strong, sensible reasoning? 

When your employees failed to achieve this phase, you should push them by continuous training and exercise. Make sure to recognise your employees’ effort to make them progress better. 

Step 4 – Generate 

The last step is to operate and implement the above training in everyday business matters. Your team members must be able to create something out of nothing. As an example, when you tell your employees to make an improvement for a new program, your employees should be able to give their opinion without your lead. The ideas should be originally generated from them. To assess this phase, here are questions you should ask yourself. 

  • Do your employees propose high-value work that does not follow logically from work they are already doing/ 
  • Can your employees convert your and other’s visions into feasible plans for realising those visions?
  • Can your employees figure out how to answer questions you have but don’t know how to answer? 

In this last phase, leaders should give room for employees to show off their hard work during the training. Invite them to observe and participate in your generative process. Leaders should also be a role model to this thinking. 

Read also: Neuroleadership: Building the Growth Mindset Culture in Workplace

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