The Big Three
Part III: Critical Thinking Skills for Innovation and Success in the Workplace
The business world moves with lightning fast speed, with answers and requests a click away. Employers across different markets and fields are finding a lack in creative and critical thinking skills among new graduates. What has happened to critical thinking in a liberal arts education system? Why are these skills so important? How do companies find critical thinkers in this job market? We are here to address all of these issues and help you find critical thinkers for your company today.
What Happened to Critical Thinking?
In today’s current educational and social climate, critical thinkers seem to be disappearing. The education system started to become more geared toward test taking and memorization and is now leaving many graduates without the necessary skill set needed to survive and thrive in the workplace. Also, many recent graduates depend on technology to answer questions for them instead of working problems out themselves. Add to that a highly sensitive and emotionally driven generation and you can see power of critical thinking coming to a close.
Still, critical thinking skills are always at the top of desirable characteristics of job applicants. Why are these skills so important? Here are just a few ways critical thinkers are vital to workplace success.
- Fosters Logic and Real World Solutions- In a society that is often led by emotion, critical thinking skills bring a realistic and rational view to passionate ideas. Critical thinkers will look at situations from a more realistic and logical standpoint. These skills don’t detract from the excitement, enthusiasm or innovation, instead they create reality out of big dreams.
- Different Angles for Development- Critical thinkers are also known to look at different angles of problems and projects. By seeing different angles, they can often find incredible options for your company. Your critical thinkers will find ways to cut back on costs, lower waste, increase production, and boost company moral. Their ability to think outside the box keeps your business fresh and thriving.
- Catch Problems Before They Occur- Since critical thinkers look at different angles and think outside the box, they can often catch issues before they occur. This skill is particularly helpful in the digital marketplace where one small mistake can bring big financial losses.
- Encourages the Entrepreneurial Spirit- If you want to succeed in business, you’ll want to have employees who have an entrepreneurial spirit. The team members who use reason, logic, and creativity in their work will also be willing to take appropriate risks. They will come up with bigger, brighter, better ideas and solutions.
- Increases Collaboration and Communication- Critical thinking also helps to foster and grow collaborative work. When you encourage critical thinking, people will want to discuss ideas and concerns with other people.
- Brings Innovation to Old Ideas- Since critical thinkers look for different ways to accomplish goals, they will often be your innovators. They will bring you new ideas, new techniques, and inspire your other team members to be creative as well.
- Independent and Detailed Work- Critical thinking often takes place independently at first. These thinkers will solve problems on their own without waiting for someone else to come along and tell them to do it. They do not need babysitting or micro-managing. Plus, their problem-solving skills often include a heightened attention to detail.
Finding Critical Thinkers from New Graduates
For some time, critical thinking skills were abandoned in the education system. Students were taught to follow rules, regulations, and answer memorized questions. This leaves a large group of graduates with weak to nonexistent critical thinking skills. This trend is currently changing. Fortunately for you, there are still critical thinkers in the applicant pool. Here’s how to find them.
- Engage in a casual dialogue. A little small talk can go a long way to show you how a person thinks. Things to look for:
- An inquisitive nature. What are they interested in? Do they show passion? Do they show curiosity?
- Ability to take criticism.
- Passion for learning. Do they have hobbies they have recently taken up? Are they learning new things now?
- Ask curveball questions. Don’t just ask the usual questions asked at every interview. Throw in some unexpected critical thinking problems. Here are some examples:
- Design an evacuation plan for the town/city they currently live in.
- Ask how many candies/ping pong balls/tacks fit into a jar.
- How would they solve a historical problem? The Titanic, Stock Market Crash, 1970s Gas Shortage. Ask if they’d handle anything differently, what they’d change, and why they’d make the changes. Giving applicants real issues to solve will show how they look at problems. Be sure to avoid hot button political issues.
- Discuss Failure- Critical thinkers don’t enjoy failing but they do see it for what it is, a step towards success. How they’ve handled failures in the past will show you their ability to both think creatively and to withstand challenges.
Critical Thinking for a Thriving Business
When you work towards creating critical thinking standards in your company, you will find your business growing and thriving. Critical thinkers are the cornerstone to any successful business.