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How to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills in my employees

In an environment that changes as frequently as the current one, companies and workers have to be able to adapt quickly. Otherwise, businesses could not survive. 

Precisely for this reason, we have become accustomed to companies requesting a large number of soft skills in their job offers, which already have more weight in the choice of candidates than hard skills.

Within the range of most demanded soft skills, we must highlight the critical thinking and problem solving ability. Two skills that are great for squad members to possess, but also the company can help develop.

Table of Contents

What does critical thinking and problem solving involve?

Access to information has become so easy that it has given rise to what is known as infoxication. A phenomenon that occurs when a person receives such information overload that is no longer able to manage itNot even to determine what is true and what is false.

In the era of infoxication, critical thinking becomes even more important than it has been until now. Because it is the capacity of a person to analyze information objectively and systematically that you have at your disposal, in order to be able to evaluate it and draw conclusions from it based on logic and evidence.

Critical thinking is closely linked to the ability to solve problems, and it is that one of its main areas of application is decision making.

If we are faced with a problem or a dilemma, and we have to make a decision, it does not matter if we are the directors of the company, the heads of a department, or a base employee, what we need to do it well is be able to synthesize and analyze information. That is we need critical thinking to assess what alternatives we have and to examine the possible consequences of each of them

The more developed an employee's critical thinking skills are, the easier it will be for them to solve problems. This is especially good for the organization, because it reduces the risk of important decisions being made impulsively or based on bias.

Breaking down the problems to find the solution

Another factor that we must take into account is that in the work environment problems are rarely simple, rather the opposite occurs. 

Faced with a crisis of a complex nature, we must be able to break it down into smaller parts to select the most effective solution or solutions. This decomposition of the problems helps to solve them more effectively, and minimizes the risk of negative effects from applying solutions that have not foreseen all possible scenarios and consequences.

This leads us to a conclusion: critical thinking will help us solve problems in the work environment, from the simplest to the most complex.

Other advantages of critical thinking applied to work

As if this were not enough, there are another series of factors that should encourage companies to invest in the development of critical thinking skills in their employees.

Encourages innovation and creativity

In order to adapt to changes, not only flexibility is needed, but also large doses of innovation and creativity that allow find a solution to a problem or a competitive advantage where there didn't seem to be one.

The greater the ability of staff members to think critically, the easier it will be for them to explore situations from different points of view and apply “outside the box thinking”. This promotes innovation and the development of new ideas that not only help to solve complicated situations, but also contribute to the continuous improvement of the organization.

Improve communication and collaboration

Critical thinking helps us see things from different points of view, and this makes the communication between two people who do not have the same opinion regarding a specific topic is much simpler.

Because this way of thinking allows us express ideas and opinions in a clearer and more informed way. While facilitating the development of the ability to active listening.

And there is no doubt that good communication is the essential pillar for constructive collaboration within work teams. By facilitating the exchange of ideas and the active participation of all team members, it becomes easier and faster to find and implement effective solutions.

Reduce errors and minimize risks

By carefully evaluating the information, and take into account all possible consequences of each decision, the risk of making inappropriate decisions is minimized and the errors that are made are reduced.

Helps develop leadership

Applying critical thinking for decision making is an essential skill to be able to carry out effective leadership. Because the leader has to consider the short- and long-term impact of your decisions, as well as the ethical implications that they may have their shares.

On the other hand, by promoting a culture of critical thinking in the teams under their charge, the leader promotes their autonomy and responsibility, facilitating informed decision-making at all levels of the organization.

How to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills: What can the company do?

Foster a culture of critical thinking and problem solving

The first step is that within the organizational culture these skills are valued positively. But we must not stay only in theory, we must put this into practice through measures such as:

  • Create communication channels through which employees can raise their ideas and concerns.
  • Publicly recognize individual and team achievements, thus celebrating people's ability to practice critical thinking and problem solving.

Provide specific training in these matters

We know that soft skills are complex to develop, but the company must do its part by offering its employees training on issues as important as the ones we are analyzing.

For this, different workshops and courses that help to know tools and techniques related to critical thinking. For example, focused on lateral thinking or cause-effect analysis.

Another alternative is the structured problem solving training, which teaches how to approach complex problems in a simpler way, to progress to the most effective solution step by step.

The simulations and practical exercises They are essential to be able to put theory into practice. For example, with an activity that puts team members in a potentially real situation in which they have to display critical thinking and use it to solve a problem in the most efficient way possible.

For those employees in whom these soft skills are especially important and have to be highly developed, which are generally those who occupy leadership positions, a good alternative may be the personalized mentoring. This allows a much deeper advance in these soft skills.

Stimulate critical thinking at work

It is useless to have invested time and money in the development of these capabilities if we then do not allow employees to put them into practice. We must look for alternatives that give rise to an application of what has been learned.

For example, assign employees to new projects that are somewhat more complex than usual, or create interdisciplinary working groups in which members have to collaborate with each other to solve problems.

promote autonomy

A very interesting way to promote critical thinking and problem solving is to give employees greater autonomy and responsibility. It is not about leaving them "alone in the face of danger", but about trust them and reduce the level of supervision.

When a person knows that they have to solve a problem on their own, they activate all their abilities, and they can even discover in themselves skills and competencies that they didn't know they had. 

To stimulate this autonomy, measures such as delegate tasks that allow employees to participate in the decision-making process and face new challenges. But it also works to create a safe environment where mistakes are seen as an opportunity to continue learning and growing and not as the door to dismissal, as well as providing a constructive feedback.

Take advantage of technology

In the era of digitization, technology can be a great ally to stimulate critical thinking and streamline decision-making processes. Because the right tools can synthesize information, create charts, enable collaboration with other employees, facilitate task organization, etc.

Developing critical thinking and problem solving skills in employees is essential for companies to succeed in a business environment that is now more challenging than ever. Investing in the development of soft skills is investing in innovation and adaptation to change to achieve sustainable growth.

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