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Improve Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving in the Workplace

OnDemand Webinar (56 minutes)

Gain an understanding of how critical thinking skills benefit your everyday life and learn simple yet valuable habits to help you improve these skills.It's a good idea to reflect on the critical thinking skills you already possess and additionally what you may need to develop those skills. Critical thinking skills allow you to understand and address situations based on all available facts and information. Critical thinking on the job involves processing and organizing facts, data and other information to define a problem and develop effective solutions. Being objective is a fundamental part of critical thinking. That means analyzing the problem without allowing personal bias, emotions, or assumptions to influence how you think about it. Instead, a strong critical thinker will only analyze the problem based on the context and facts collected after conducting thorough and impartial research. Critical thinking skills are essential in every industry at every career level, from entry-level associates to top executives. Good critical thinkers will work well independently and with others to solve problems. This topic will discuss various critical thinking skills that are important such as developing solutions and creating new ideas. A case study will be used as a basis of discussion. Issues such as process inefficiencies, management or finances can be improved by using critical thought. Another case study will be used to reinforce thinking skills. While you might already possess many problem solving and critical thinking skills, it may be helpful to consider other areas for improvement. It's always possible to improve your critical thinking skills through practice and extended educational opportunities. Case Study #1 - Whatever Decision You Choose to Make Is Totally up to You. The Door Closes Behind You as You Walk Out of the Boss's Office. That Is Just What You Need, another Smoldering Fire That Might Burst Into Flames No Matter What You Do. You Stop and Chat With Several Office Workers on Your Way Back to Your Office. But Your Mind Is Really on This New Situation Concerning Emily Bermeier. Emily Is Your Purchasing Agent and a Trusted Employee for Many Years. She Has a Business Degree From One of the Better Schools and Has Used Her Knowledge to Keep Your Total Purchasing Expenditures Among the Lowest in the Industry. However, Your Boss Just Let You Know That Emily Has been Accepting Payments From One of Your Suppliers. For Every $100 of Goods She Buys From the Supplier, She Receives a Payment of $1 in the Form of Merchandise or Cash Mailed to Her Home. Information Obtained by Your Boss Shows That No Cost to the Company Can Be Traced to Her Actions. In Fact, Her Performance Has Made Her Quite a Highly Recruitable Professional. You Must Decide What to Do About This Embarrassing, if Not Illegal, Situation. Case Study #2 - One of Your Employees in the Marketing Department Has Not Been Able to Adequately Perform His Assigned Duties. He Is a Long-Standing Employee Who Has Been With the Company for 19 Years. While He Was an Able Employee in the Past, the Changing Demands of the Business, Pre- COVID-19, Along With Expanding Job Requirements for His Position, Have Resulted in Performance That Is Severely Lacking. He Is 57 Years Old. In One More Year He Will Receive Extra Retirement Benefits Granted to 20-Year Employees. If You Continue to Carry Him (Keep Him Employed) for the Year, You Will Undoubtedly Have to Hire an Extra Person to Pick Up the Slack. This Could Set Precedent for Other Employees Facing Similar Circumstances Throughout the Company. On the Other Hand, Firing Him Could Affect the Morale and Loyalty of Other Employees. You Also Worry That if You Fire Him, He Will Sue Claiming Age Discrimination.


Mel Coe, Ph.D., Mel Coe and Partners


Review of Critical Thinking

• What Is It?

• How It Is Really Used in the Real World

• Be Skeptical, Ask Questions, Be Willing to Wonder

Three Simple Habits to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

• Question Assumptions

• Reason Through Logic

• Diversify Thought

Six Critical Thinking Skills You Need to Master

• Identification: Figure out the Situation or Problem

- How to Improve: Take a Mental Inventory of the State of Affairs

• Research: Research Ability Is the Key

- How to Improve: Develop an Eye for Unsourced Claims

• Identify Biases: Evaluate Information Objectively

- How to Improve: Challenge Yourself

• Inference: Draw Conclusions Based on Information Presented

- How to Improve: An Inference Is Just an Educated Guess

• Decide on Relevance: What Is Most Important?

- How to Improve: Develop Clear Direction

• Curiosity: We Are Naturally Curious

- How to Improve: It Takes a Conscious Effort to Ask Open-Ended Questions

What Is the Other Side of the Story?

• What Is Being Left out?

• How Do We Ask Questions?

• Case Studies