Study: Most Employees Are Only Average at Critical Thinking

A new survey by the American Management Association found that employees are lacking in key analytical skills, which are increasingly important for businesses to remain competitive.

When it comes to analytical skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and problem solving, business managers and executives rate a majority of their employees as mediocre at best, according to a new survey by the American Management Association.

The 2012 Critical Skills Survey, which polled 768 managers and executives, found that employers rated most of their employees as either average or below average in communication skills (62 percent), creativity (61 percent), collaboration (52 percent), and critical thinking (49 percent).

Three-quarters of respondents also reported that these skills will only become more important as the American workplace continues to change and expand globally.

“We believe that critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity are the keys to keeping up with the relentless pace of change that confronts all businesses and their employees as we push forward in the global economy,” AMA President and CEO Edward Reilly said in a statement.

Experienced workers rated higher in the four Cs compared to recent grads, but survey respondents said it is easier to develop these skills in younger, less experienced workers as opposed to their more experienced counterparts.

Mentoring and in-house job training were listed as the most effective tools to develop these skills in employees, followed by one-on-one coaching, job rotation, and professional development.

Sixty-one percent of managers and executives rated pace of change in business as the most important reason why critical thinking skills are important in the workplace, followed by global competition, how work is accomplished, and the way organizations are structured.

These findings are comparable to past research, such as the 2009 Pearson/Talent Lens study, which asked 400 senior HR professionals what was the most important skill their employees would need over the next five years. Respondents ranked critical thinking highest and stated that rapidly evolving work settings, speed of doing business, and globalization would require employees to use such skills in order to make decisions quickly on their own.

(George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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