What Happened to Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is an essential skill in our current economy. The ability to discern, evaluate, and differentiate can make the difference between informed and careless decisions.

Our workers are often in a rush. Many have more work to do than time to complete. Consequently, sometimes even the smallest of items are handled without thinking, let alone without critical thinking.

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“I Just Can’t Do More”

Although you might rarely hear your employees utter these words, if you pay attention, you’re likely to read them in their gestures, body language, and tone of voice. When people are burned out, this is often what they express nonverbally.

People who are otherwise reliable individuals start to slip. They miss deadlines. They forget about important details. They neglect delegating.

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Full Employment Blues

Most of my clients are hiring new employees and finding it much more difficult than it was several years ago. The main reason? Full employment. As much as they want to attract top quality candidates, it’s much tougher today.

This will sound like a sweeping generalization (and it is), but most candidates who have been unemployed for more than a few months without a reasonable explanation are out of work because they’re just not that talented. Of course, there are exceptions, but at 3.7% unemployment…well, you do the math.

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Electronic Dialogue

Communication can be challenging, to say the least! When you speak face-to-face, you can see body language, gestures, and hear intonation. If that same conversation is on the phone, you essentially miss the body language and gestures. If that message is conveyed by email, you lose the intonation as well; and if text, it can be even more obscure.

Many people shoot off an email without regard to how the recipient is going to receive or interpret the message. For example, one person I work with reads whatever is visible on the screen of her phone. Her staff knows that everything important needs to be in the first few lines.

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Tune into Your Co-Workers

You never know what baggage people bring to work every day. No matter how well things seem to be going, you can bet that something is lurking in the background. You just don’t know what it is.

Some people are great at compartmentalizing and can have productive days even if something personally challenging is happening concurrently. Others will sit at their desks and stare into space, completely unaware of anything going on around them.

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Back to School

September has a “back to school” allure, even if you haven’t been a student for years. Not only are we reminded of it by omnipresent advertisements of school supplies and the like, but feelings are conjured from our own memories.

This is always a good time for a fresh start on whatever needs rebooting. Are there goals that have languished? A new project that was backburnered? A special initiative that will energize your team?

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“We’ve Always Done It This Way”

Change is almost always received with at least a little resistance. When someone says “we’ve always done it this way” it’s a signal that you’ll need to do more work than just the change itself. You’ll need to “sell” your people on why this specific change.

When planning for change, then, you should plan for the change itself in addition to internal persuasion time. Yes, this takes more time, and yes, you need to do this.

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