Critical Thinking in Human Resources

Modern human resource management is no longer just about making decisions based on feelings and past experiences. That’s not to say that these two components aren’t still important, but data and facts are much more important than they used to be. Every HR Manager or HR Business Partner today needs to be able to apply critical thinking skills when deciding with line managers which direction to take and how to make decisions. Critical thinking helps sort out the various options and brings consistency to decision making.

In addition, a decision based on facts and data is easier to explain to employees who are directly or indirectly affected by it because it is harder to argue against it because the facts are on the table and the HR Manager has looked at and thought about them from many different angles.

Critical thinking is particularly helpful in:

  • Performance Management,
  • Change Management,
  • Succession Planning,
  • Workforce Planning,
  • Organization Design,
  • HR Analytics,
  • HR Communication,
  • HR Transformation.

Critical thinking is not only useful for Human Resources, it must promote it throughout the organization. It must become an ambassador of critical thinking because it makes the whole organization stronger and more resilient to various shocks.

The world is changing rapidly today and we are forced to make quick decisions. We have no time to waste because the competition is not waiting for us to think through our next move. And by putting organizations and companies under pressure, we can make bad decisions. We don’t think them through and we miss the facts that we should take into account. And that’s a problem for the whole company, not just Human Resources.

Critical thinking skills allow you to understand and deal with situations based on all the facts and information available. Using critical thinking skills at work usually involves processing and organizing facts, data, and other information to define a problem and develop an effective solution.

What is critical thinking?

A common definition of critical thinking is:

“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information obtained or generated through observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication as a guide to belief and action.”