Imagine a conflict between two employees in a team. The conflict escalates, and begins to affect the overall productivity and morale of the team. The human resources manager now has to intervene and find a solution that resolves the disagreement and also restores harmony in the team.
In such a scenario, critical thinking becomes crucial for HR professionals. Instead of jumping to conclusions or relying solely on personal biases, they will have to approach the situation with a thoughtful and analytical mindset. Thinking critically, they will gather relevant information by speaking to both parties involved, as well as other team members who may have witnessed the conflict. They will analyse the situation without any prejudices and consider different perspectives.
Generally, critical thinking is important for everyone, but its significance in HR is crucial. After all, critical thinking is the skill of carefully examining and assessing arguments and beliefs using logic and a systematic approach. It requires questioning assumptions, exploring different viewpoints, scrutinising evidence and making thoughtful and reasoned conclusions.
This rational way of thinking helps HR personnel navigate complexities and ensures that they make informed choices that benefit both employees and the company.
“Humans are thinking animals. Therefore, while dealing with them at the workplace, HR managers should take an empathetic yet rational decision-making approach to ensure unbiasedness.”
Rishav Dev, former CHRO, Noveltech Feeds
Tackling diverse workplace situations
Underscoring the vital importance of critical thinking in HR, Sharad Verma, VP & CHRO, Iris Software, highlights various aspects of this primarily problem-solving exercise, including the ability to distinguish between facts and opinions, making logical conclusions based on data, finding the root cause of the problem and establishing cause-effect relationship. “These competencies equip HR professionals to tackle diverse workplace situations with clarity and insight,” asserts Verma.
Rishav Dev, former CHRO, Noveltech Feeds, opines, “Humans are thinking animals. Therefore, while dealing with them at the workplace, HR managers should take an empathetic yet rational decision-making approach to ensure unbiasedness.”
How to evaluate situations with critical thinking
“Steps in evaluating a situation include cultivating a calm and analytical mindset, collecting relevant data and evidence, seeking input from stakeholders, assessing solution effectiveness, conducting cause-effect analysis and formulating actionable plans for the future to help make sound decisions,” enunciates Verma.
Kamlesh Dangi, group head-HR, InCred, emphasises the compatibility of critical thinking and empathy. Dangi reveals how critical thinking enables HR professionals to overcome bias and make informed decisions.
He says, “By approaching employee cases objectively, relying on factual evidence rather than personal biases, HR practitioners can deliver fair and well-founded solutions.”
“By approaching employee cases objectively, relying on factual evidence rather than personal biases, HR practitioners can deliver fair and well-founded solutions.”
Kamlesh Dangi, group head-HR, InCred
Synergy of critical thinking and empathy
By empathising with employee’s challenges and understanding their perspective, an HR professional can critically assess the situation to make a fair and informed decision. A decision that takes into account an individual’s well-being and growth opportunities within the organisation.
So, does critical thinking or analysis affect the empathic aspect of HR? In Dangi’s opinion, “Critical thinking and empathy can coexist, one can analyse a situation based on facts and figures and still be empathetic towards the people involved. Thus, this can foster a deep understanding of others’ perspectives.”
How organisations can promote critical thinking
By creating an environment of open communication, organisations can empower HR teams to approach challenges with a thoughtful and analytical mindset. This cultivates an HR department that is adept at making well-founded decisions and helps drive organisational growth.
Dangi suggests, “To foster critical thinking, organisations must raise awareness, provide role models and actively promote the use of assessment tools that empowers the HR to make fact-based decisions.”
“Steps in evaluating a situation include cultivating a calm and analytical mindset, collecting relevant data and evidence, seeking input from stakeholders, assessing solution effectiveness, conducting cause-effect analysis and formulating actionable plans for the future to help make sound decisions.”
Sharad Verma, VP & CHRO, Iris Software
Setting clear criteria for decision making
Establishing clear criteria for hiring and firing decisions in the organisation helps professionals make decisions based on precise data and information.
“Defining qualifications, experience and role suitability allows HR professionals to assess candidates objectively,” points out Dangi.
This approach ensures that decisions are based on pure evidence rather than subjective feelings, resulting in fair and informed choices that align with organisational requirements.
If HR practitioners or managers do not apply critical thinking and make decisions based on their biases or gut feelings, then it can affect the organisation’s credibility and level of integrity.
In this ever-evolving HR landscape, embracing critical thinking can help HR professionals navigate challenges with clarity, objectivity and empathy in a profound and inclusive manner, benefiting the organisation and the people who rely on their decisions.