Critical thinking skills are essential assets in any realm of business. Employees in authoritative roles should be able to demonstrate these skills in day-to-day scenarios. In fact, the skill to think critically in the workplace can accelerate any employee’s role in a business or organization.
When defining critical thinking skills, I am going to use an existing framework, well-known in the education field: Pearson’s RED Critical Thinking Model. According to this model, there are three essential skills that one can develop to become a true critical thinker: recognize assumptions, evaluate arguments, and draw conclusions. I am going to apply these principals to the following workplace problem.
South Fork Electric is a one-man operation. My brother fills all positions, from owner to employee to Human Resources (HR). As business increases, the calendar fills, and customers eventually get put on a waiting list. It goes without saying that patience wears out pretty fast and the customers get tired of waiting and look elsewhere for help. At this point in the business, there may be a need to hire an employee to keep up with the demand for a master electrician. So the problem statement here is, should South Fork Electric expand?
The identified situation is that business is accelerating at a faster rate than anticipated. That is a good ‘problem’ to have, however it impedes business when the only employee is spread thin. We can immediately make a number of assumptions: the number of jobs will be overwhelming, he will work 60+ every week, and customers will go elsewhere if the timing is inconvenient. With those assumptions in mind, we must separate fact from fiction. An assumption is nothing without evidence to back it up. As a critical thinker, one must realize these assumptions are “what ifs” and not problems that need solving at this time.
A critical thinker must be objective and keep his emotions out of the situation. Although as the business owner, he does need to look out for his own best interest. From my brother’s point of view, he should evaluate if he feels overwhelmed by numerous jobs? Is a 60+ hour work-week inconvenient? Is he willing to turn down a job due to his schedule? Based on past experience, if a new customer has been referred by another, has the customer waited patiently or been flexible until my brother is free to help?
Now on the other hand, if South Fork Electric hires an additional employee based on the above assumptions, my brother must consider the potential employee’s point of view as a stakeholder. Will the work hours change based on business? Is there a possibility of getting laid off? How will these factors impact the employee?
Ultimately, a company is driven by its bottom line. What will the impact be on the company’s ROI with the addition of an employee? A critical thinker analyzes the additional expenses to measure gains vs. costs. The budget will now include employee wages, possibly benefits, and unemployment, as may be the case in the winter season when business typically slows.
The evidence to make an objective, accurate decision about hiring an employee to South Fork Electric’s payroll is in the numbers. A new employee is an investment for a company. My brother would need to purchase additional tools, equipment, and liability insurance. There is the cost of hunting for a new hire and training. If the employee doesn’t work out, then the costs are a wash and the investment is gone.
It is too early to tell if an addition to the company is in the future. Pearson’s Red Critical Thinking Model is an effective learning tool for developing critical thinking skills. The model served as a great tool for contemplating the pros and cons of a business expansion at South Fork Electric.
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