Success in today’s workforce requires continuous skill development, and it’s vital for professionals to focus on more than technical abilities. Your current role might require these competencies, but they don’t guarantee a position, or a career in your industry. This concept might be hard to accept, but the rise of automation, along with rapid changes in technology, have drastically shortened the shelf life of many technical skills. So, how can you stay ahead of the curve and maintain job security?
Focus on what makes you uniquely human.
Soft skills help shape your employability because they aren’t job-specific and aren’t subject to automation. These intangible traits not only influence how well you collaborate with others, but also your ability to work alongside machines. If you want to stay employable, you must adopt the mindset of a continuous learner.
While this process involves developing multiple soft skills, the most crucial skill behind lifelong learning is critical thinking. The ability to evaluate information, analyze situations, and make decisions translates across all jobs, regardless of the industry. When correctly implemented in your job, critical thinking helps individuals overcome challenges and meet business goals.
Here are a few examples of where critical thinking comes into play in the workplace.
As you complete tasks and adapt to different situations, it’s important to always ask yourself what you’re doing and why. When you receive new information, try and make connections based on what you already understand. Analyze ideas and how they fit into the bigger picture. Evaluate the impact that acting on the information you’ve gathered might have on you and your company. Self-assessment gives learners the chance to critique their own work before submitting it. Don’t forget to leverage internal feedback as a means of improvement and reflect on everything you do. Most people are their own harshest critic and can use internal feedback as a means of improvement. Reflection and review help build critical thinking skills and will improve your performance over time.
Giving feedback to a peer
Taking the time to give feedback to a peer can help both of you reach a deeper understanding of the work you do and your company’s mission. Whether you’re a part of a team collaborating on a project or a colleague asks you for input on a presentation, there are times when you will have to provide feedback to your peers. Critical thinking enhances this process because it’s all about analyzing what you see and evaluating it. You might have to assess whether your colleague expresses their main points well enough in a presentation or analyze someone’s portion of a team project as you try and piece it together with the overall message.
Receiving feedback from a manager
Skill development in any industry rarely happens without feedback, so receiving constructive criticism from a manager or mentor is vital for growth. These feedback sessions are great for making goals, looking at potential challenges, and receiving personalized coaching. You have to be open to accepting what they have to say, though. And to improve, the receiver must apply the feedback to their future performance. But before this can happen, you must analyze and make connections to the information a coach is giving you. This requires you to think critically above all else.
Analyzing everyday scenarios
No matter what you do for a living, situations will arise where you must use your critical thinking skills on a daily basis. Maybe you’re a sales rep who encounters objections in the field and must think on your feet and make quick decisions to keep the sales process moving forward. Everyone has either been a part of or witnessed a workplace conflict at some point in their lives. Coming to a positive resolution takes a combination of situational analysis, reflection, and quick thinking.
If you want to improve your critical thinking skills, make sure you pay attention to opportunities where you can obtain feedback from a mentor or boss. As a coworker, it’s important to give feedback so that it empowers your peers to work on self-growth. And never stop looking for ways to improve your own performance through reflection. These dynamic opportunities can help learners develop the necessary skills for lifelong learning, and in turn, employability.