How to Use Critical Thinking in the Workplace

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Promoting critical thinking in the workforce is accomplished in a number of ways.
Promoting critical thinking in the workforce is accomplished in a number of ways. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Employees use critical thinking every day as part of their jobs: determining budget constraints, analyzing spreadsheets and communicating with other employees are just a few tasks in the requiring critical thinking. Louis Boone, author of “Contemporary Business” explains this ability allows workers to target problems and assess opportunities. As such, employees have a strong incentive to use this skill in the work force. Managers play a role in promoting critical thinking skills by promoting unity in the workplace and creating an inviting environment as well.

Assess the options surrounding a given scenario. For instance, if the production manager explains how the supplier is experiencing a shortage of raw materials, a critical thinker analyzes all of the possible options to rectify the issue, such as finding an alternative supplier or negotiating an extension the order. Research key factors of the industry to better understand the available options. Read trade publications and interview industry experts to gain a holistic perspective of the possibilities. Ascertain possibilities not yet developed or tested as well: some of the best business ideas have originated by coincidence.

Think critically by weighing outcomes. Review all possible ramifications of a given choice and to choose the best one based on the given information. Think through the implications of a decision using logic and foresight. If necessary, consult with others is an ideal way to assess outcomes. Thomas Kessler, author of “The Business of Government” explains strategic planning entails reviewing external circumstances and forecasting. Use forecasting analysis to provide specific, quantitative outcomes of a given decision.

Maintain a clear, rational mentality when making critical decisions. Use only the logical, tangible components of a scenario to make a decision instead of succumbing to the whims of a rapidly fluctuating business environment. Recognize that markets seldom operate rationally and formulate risk management policies such as hedging commodities and foreign currency: This will help the company avoid sharp declines in commodity prices based on rumors and pre-empt the formation of asset bubbles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Workers have difficulty engaging in critical thinking when they are given incomplete information and have ambiguous job functions. Thus, managers play a critical role in helping workers make ideal decisions. Outlining clear expectations, holding meeting and delegating work according the strengths of workers are a few methods of managers can use to promote critical thinking.
  • External circumstances such as a poor working environment and conflicts between co-workers inhibit thinking in a clear-headed fashion. Thus, improving worker satisfaction by having an inviting workspace and promoting collaboration boosts critical thinking in the workplace.

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