Making decisions without analyzing the information will seldom lead to fruitful outcomes. The reason why critical thinking is an important skill in the business world today. Managers are demanding their teams to spend more time in brainstorming sessions and to evaluate information thoroughly before coming to conclusions. Given that no education center trains you to be a critical thinker, it is not an innate talent either, but a skill that develops through rigorous training.
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is evaluating facts thoroughly to deduce an accurate solution for a problem. A solution that is – reasonable, backed by constructive reasoning and free from prejudices and subjectivity. It is thinking beyond that first idea that crops up in your mind on receiving a project. Critical thinking helps not only in professional life but in personal life too. A critical thinker or someone with the critical eye technically has the power to stand out, bounce off ideas quickly, and improve quality of work and execution. Also, it is critical thinking that enhances strategic thinking for managers.
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How does critical thinking benefit?
- It helps distinguish between what is useful and less useful from the collated information
- Improves the quality of work, management skills, and problem-solving ability of the team
- Critical thinkers look beyond the first idea and come up with perspectives that others may not think of initially
- Since the decision is free from biases and backed by reasonable findings, it limits conflicts at workplaces and helps with people management
- It also aids in discovering the strengths and weaknesses of team members, thus making it easier for a team leader while assigning tasks.
These four steps can enhance the critical thinking skills of a team and give leverage to potential leaders of tomorrow:
Step 1: Execution
Begin with the last step of a business plan – Execution, for it may be the easiest but it does require some basic thinking. For example – like converting verbal tasks into action, within time and while maintaining the standard of quality. Monitor if the members can execute these tasks effortlessly. Assign them with immediate deadlines, attend to their doubts and struggles, and scrutinize if their work shows improvement. You’d know they are ready to move to the next step when they start making suggestions of executing the tasks better.
Step 2: Develop an eye for what’s important
To identify fundamental information from myriad facts, researches and findings require perseverance and patience. One of the easiest ways to discover if they can catch on to insightful information and important takeaways would be to inspect them after an important meeting. Ask them to briefly share their insights about the meeting on the spot. If they can identify what’s more or less important immediately, then they are ready to advance to the next step or else assign them with tasks wherein they can practice the art of identifying what’s more or less useful.
Step 3: Suggestion
Once they have mastered how to identify what is important, ask them for recommendations. Irrespective of whether their recommendation aligns with yours or not, see if theirs is backed with constructive reasoning. Also, while they recommend, ask them for alternatives, pros and cons too. This will not only encourage them to think beyond the ‘first idea’ but make suggestions that are free from personal judgments.
Step 4: Innovate and generate
To create something out of a vision or to generate a plan out of someone’s idea requires in-depth training. Their minds need to be directed to think rationally and differently from how they generally work. Let them observe how the management works, plans and prepares to generate positive outcomes. Encourage them to ask questions and make the team realize the importance of critical thinking before making plans and decisions. Tell them to prepare ideas regarding your projects, so you can understand their perspective and progress. By assigning such tasks, you are not only encouraging open-thinking but expanding their scope to think and make more rational and reasonable decisions. Also, critical thinkers make great problem solvers!
Given the competitive times we are living in, brands are now understanding the importance of critical thinking, which has made it one of the most in-demand skills today. However, rather than looking for critical thinkers, train your teams with the four stages stated above to help expand their scope of thinking and construct productive plans.
You might also be interested to read:
- What Is Critical Thinking and Why Is It Valuable In The Workplace? | Performance Management Consultants
- How to Promote Critical Thinking in the Workplace | Dave Root | March 29, 2018
- A Short Guide to Building Your Team’s Critical Thinking Skills | Matt Plummer | October 11, 2019
- Critical Thinking Definition, Skills, and Examples | Alison Doyle | June 08, 2020