panthmm1.jpgIf you want a job as a print production specialist at Progressive Medical Inc. in Westerville, OH, one of the required skills is “critical thinker.”

And “the successful candidate,” applying to be a business reporter with Associated Press in New York, also “must be a critical thinker.”

This skill is sought after by pretty much every employer looking to fill a position. It’s hard to find a job posting that doesn’t include this requirement.

I feel bad for all those poor saps out there that are not critical thinkers but just plain old thinkers. (Critical-thinker cheat sheet below.) Especially since a new study finds more and more businesses are on the hunt for critical thinkers right now.

Last week, the American Management Association released the results of a survey of what executives are hungry for in their organizations and critical thinking was one of the top traits among something they’re calling the four Cs — communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

According to the survey results, executives said these skills and competencies have been articulated within their organizations as priorities for employee development, talent management and succession planning. In fact, the majority agreed that their employees are measured in communication skills (80.4%), critical thinking (72.4%), collaboration (71.2%), and creativity (57.3%) during annual performance appraisals. In addition, job applicants are assessed in these areas during the hiring process.

Clearly, you better work on your critical-thinking skills my friends.

But what the hell is critical-thinking anyway?

Alec Fisher and Michael Scrivenv, authors of “Critical Thinking: Its Definition and Assessment” defined it as “skilled and active interpretation and evaluation of observations and communications, information, and argumentation.”

And believe it or not there’s a Foundation for Critical Thinking and on their website there’s even a photo of the statute of that guy with his hand under his chin. thinker.jpgAnd there’s also a cheat sheet (I’m calling it that) that provides some tips on how to pass yourself off as a critical thinker:

A well-cultivated critical thinker:

* Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
* Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
* Comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards
* Thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as needs be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences
* Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems

How many workers have it? About half, according to the executives polled by the AMA. (Maybe the other half are pained to show their critical-thinking chops right now given how many have been furloughed, seen their pay and benefits cut, and miss their coworkers who were laid off. But I digress.)

What if you don’t have it? Can you get it?

Those surveyed said one-on-one coaching can help you get your critical thinking mojo on, as well as professional development and training, and doing a bunch of different jobs.

Alas, it may be hard to teach an old dog this new management trick. The survey found that 58.6 percent of managers believed it was easier to teach critical-thinking skill to students than it was to more seasoned employees.

If you’re reading these stats and getting angry because you’re old and don’t appreciate this sentiment, don’t worry. You’re angry because it turns out you are, surprise, surprise, A CRITICAL THINKER!

The rest of you who don’t care probably don’t know any better because you are just regular thinkers, so disregard this post.

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