Nurturing Your Employees Critical Thinking Skills

b loehr - critical thinkingFrom A to Z on your roster, every employee needs the ability to make decisions, use available resources effectively and to problem solve. Knowing when and how to ask the right questions, whether you’re the custodian or the CEO, is of tremendous value. This aptitude for “thinking on your feet” assists anyone and everyone in performing his/her duties and greatly benefits the overall success of the company.

But unlike technical qualifications that can be tested and confirmed, these critical thinking skills often have to be observed in action. Which may be why although Employee XYZ, whose education and training are second to none, hasn’t lived up to your expectations. Oh, he’s a good guy and all, but he’s lacking in initiative and can’t seem to think outside of narrow parameters.

While some people’s natural abilities fuel these critical thinking skills, others less inclined can still learn to utilize the variety of components that make up what we’ve come to describe as critical thinking skills.

You can assist your employees in developing these needed qualities and in making their usage a habit.

Get them thinking

Consider implementing something similar to the “bell ringer” concept utilized in many school classrooms across the country that encourages students to get their thought processes flowing the moment the bell rings for class to begin. In a central location, on paper or a whiteboard, present a problem/dilemma/opportunity that encourages individual brainstorming to find a solution. It can be something as simple as solving the traffic flow pattern to and from the supply closet. Or something as major as brainstorming themes for the next marketing campaign. The idea is to get everyone to think logically, to ask questions and to share ideas.

Encourage discussion and debate

Bring those individual ideas to a group setting to be hashed out. Foster an atmosphere that is accepting, even encouraging, of any constructive suggestions. Encourage the exploration of different points of view. Assist your employees in recognizing their biases and help them to view a situation from all perspectives. Settings that encourage creativity and “thinking outside the box” will reap a harvest of engaged, motivated workers who, when faced with a serious dilemma, will have the skills needed to find a solution.

 Make it okay to be wrong

It’s crucial to nurture an atmosphere that discourages the blame game. Seriously, how ridiculous it is to hear grown men and women engage in the Kindergarten ritual of blaming.

  • “It was his idea.”
  • “But you didn’t do your part.”
  • “The whole idea was stupid.”
  • “I can’t help it if my concept went over your head.”

All ideas are valuable. Not every idea is feasible. That’s okay. That where critical thinking enters, to weed out the suggestions that won’t translate into a feasible solution.

At B. Loehr Staffing we utilize critical thinking to find the best candidates to meet your staffing needs. By asking the right questions and thinking through logical solutions, we can meet your Flexible, Planned and Facility Staffing requirements. Contact us today. Discover how our technical and critical thinking skills have made us the staffing company that successful companies have relied on since 1898.

 

Why Critical Thinking Skills Are a Must

b loehr - critical thinkingYou probably heard the term “critical thinking skills” bandied about often. The fact is, mentions of “critical thinking” in job postings have doubled since 2009, according to an analysis by Indeed.com. But do you know what it means? If not, you’re not alone.

“It’s one of those words – like diversity was, like big data is – where everyone talks about it but there are 50 different ways to define it,” says Dan Black, America’s director of recruiting at the accounting firm and consultancy EY.

Business consultant and author Steve Siebold defines critical thinking “as the ability to remove all emotion from an issue and observe the facts objectively to make a logical decision.”

Cognitive psychologist, Dr. Winston Sieck, notes this core set of critical thinking skills:

  • Suspending judgment to check the validity of a proposition or action
  • Taking into consideration multiple perspectives
  • Examining implications and consequences of a belief or action
  • Using reason and evidence to resolve disagreements
  • Re-evaluating a point of view in light of new information

In more casual terms, the HUB for Academic Literacy and Learning describes these intangible skills as:

  • Thinking beyond the immediate situation
  • Looking at the big picture and the context of a topic
  • Asking questions about different aspects of the topic – What? How? When? Who? Why? What if?
  • Looking at theory and asking how it relates to practice
  • Reading different viewpoints about issues and forming your conclusions
  • Reflecting on your work and deciding how to improve it in the future.

Of course, critical thinking skills aren’t a replacement for specialized hard skills and knowledge, but rather an enhancement. The combination will help you develop a stronger understanding and perform better in any field.

Even though difficult to define, employers know they want skills that go beyond educational degrees, certifications and licenses.  Those are the qualifications that make you eligible to apply for a job, but every boss knows it’s a melding of those qualifications with a mix of less tangible skills – the soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, etc. that leads to ultimate success in the workplace.

Key Findings from a National Survey of Business and Non-Profit Leaders report that more than 90% of leaders prioritize hiring college graduates who not only have achieved the required or, at least, preferred education but also exhibit the critical thinking skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.

Be prepared to answer interview questions designed to delve into your critical thinking skills. For instance, “In the past, how have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker?” or “Describe a time when you took the initiative to meet a challenge head-on.”  What the interviewer is hoping to discern is your ability to get from point A to point B when presented with any number of situations.

At B. Loehr Staffing we consider the whole picture -helping you focus on critical thinking skills as well as your education, experience, and other soft skills. We match that package with a position that best fits you. Contact us today to become part of our winning team.

 

 

 

 

 

The Impact of the Baby Boomers Exodus on Your Job Search

b loehr - exodusThe 79 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964—turning 52 to 70 this year—comprise the largest generation in U.S. history. Beginning in 2011, their exodus from the workforce, in the form of retirement, ushered in a dynamic change that will rock the employment landscape for years to come.

For the next thirteen years, approximately four million Boomers a year will leave the workforce, leaving vacancies for Generations X (born between 1965 and 1983) and Generation Y (born between 1984 and 1995) to fill. Finally, Generation Z, the oldest of whom will turn 20 this year, already dubbed the “Net Generation” for their attachment to the Internet

If you’re in the market for a job or considering a career change, the Boomer exodus may spell opportunity with a capital “O.” The areas particularly impacted by the departure of the Baby Boomers will be:

Management / Senior Level Positions

Over the years, many Boomers climbed their way to upper-level positions in leadership and management roles. Their exit from the workplace will leave gaps in these important roles, creating career advancement opportunities for both Gen X and Gen Y. Well-developed management skills and a drive to lead will benefit job seekers as companies scramble to fill senior level positions.

Skilled Laborers

Traditionally, Baby Boomers have held the majority of jobs in the many fields that fall under the broad title of “skilled labor.” From electricians, plumbers and heating/cooling specialists to engineers, mechanics and various construction-related occupations—these important-to-our-daily-lives careers are facing major shortages as Boomers wave goodbye to the daily grind. In general, fewer young people are pursuing these types of careers. Some labor experts are predicting a boom in opportunities for the next generation of skill trade workers, complete with wage hikes and aggressive recruiting policies.

Boomers are impacting the job market in another major way as well. As this huge generation ages, their changing needs will generate high demands in various job markets. These fields include—

Healthcare

As this largest-ever generation ages, they will require an unprecedented level of health care services. Already some of the fastest-growing jobs in the medical field include medical billing specialists, physician’s assistants, registered nurses and pharmacy technicians. The demand for these and other specific medical positions are expected to continue to grow as will the demand for the supporting roles in patient services and public relations.

Financial Advisors

A spike in the area of financial services has already been realized as Boomers make financial plans for their golden years. The need for alternative retirement planning is expected to see continued growth as both public and private pension plans become less common. 

Let B Loehr Staffing be your staffing resource as you seek the opportunities afforded by the wave of Baby Boomers exiting the workforce. We provide staffing for multiple clients in a variety of industries. One of those positions is sure to be the right fit for you.  Contact us today and let B Loehr help you take advantage of the Boomer exodus.

Baby Boomers Leaving the Workforce

b loehr - BB retirementAccording to AARP, every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers reach the traditional retirement age of 65. This phenomenon began in 2011 and will continue until 2029 when the last Boomers turn 65. You do the math. 10,000 employees x 13 years = an astounding amount of knowledge and experience waltzing out the door of companies across this nation.

Many of these soon-to-be retirees hold leadership posts where they’ve cultivated vast networks and nurtured long-term relationships. Their hands-on understanding relating to the development of products, services, and marketing strategies is unmatched anywhere in the general workforce.

Couple this trend, considered so significant it’s been dubbed “The Baby Boomer Brain Drain”, with the tendency Millennials have for job-hopping, and it’s little wonder companies are scrambling to keep their head above the waves.

While recent economic factors had led to speculation that Boomers would work past the traditional retirement age, early indications point to Boomers retiring at approximately the same rate as their older co-workers. Still an AARP study found that almost 50% of Boomers see themselves working until the age of 70 or more, with 36% reporting they will never be able to afford retirement.

All of this conspires to create a host of dilemmas as well as a new dynamic when it comes to maintaining a productive, engaged workforce.

How can you avoid that panic-stricken moment when it’s painfully obvious that the only person who knew best how to communicate with the company’s most important client or how to navigate the complexities of the switchboard is no longer with the company? Rather he/she is enjoying the wonders of retirement.

What’s a company to do? A good place to start is to take steps to slow the departure of these valuable long-term employees. Those near-retirees who are concerned about either finances or having too much time on their hands might jump at the offer of an alternative work schedule. Although the idea of staying on the job longer may appeal, a restructured workload may be in order. Job-sharing opportunities and part-time or flex-time options, as well as telecommuting, may create a win-win situation for all involved. Flexibility will likely be the key that unlocks the door to keeping those knowledgeable workers on the job a bit longer.

Follow the lead of GM, who last August launched an internal online mentor portal that matches young staffers seeking a mentor with experienced employees eager to share their knowledge. “We want to foster leaders to be coaches, and mentoring is one of the best ways to do that,” says Chris Oster, GM’s global director of talent development. “It’s really about encouraging both sides of that equation to make the connection.”

Foresight, planning and an attitude of flexibility can lessen the negative impact of the departure of history’s largest generation from the workplace.

As a respected resource in the staffing industry since 1898, B. Loehr Staffing remains committed to supplemental staffing and human resources management in the greater St. Louis area. We can assist you in maintaining optimal staffing efficiency as the Baby Boomer’s departure from the workforce creates openings within your company. Contact us today.

 

 

4 Tips for Disconnecting from Work on the Weekends

b loehr - weekendThe weekend is a time to recharge your battery, to unwind, and to enjoy friends and family. At least, it should be. And it needs to be for the sake of your mental and physical health, the relationships you value, and the rejuvenation, which is essential to jump back into the work-a-day world on Monday morning. Too bad it’s much easier said than done.

Technology has revolutionized the way we do business, in many beneficial, productive ways. But because it so marvelously allows for us to work from home, when riding the train, while attending a ball game, etc., shutting down on the weekend is especially difficult. This 24/7 connectedness can be habit forming—for both employee and employer.

If you routinely do a portion of your work from home – a flexible set-up that works great to accommodate your other responsibilities – it can be especially tough to “turn off” for the weekend. A few minutes of free time finds you “just checking in” rather than relaxing. And an hour to “finish up” a project can easily turn into an entire afternoon.

Try these tips for weekend disconnecting.
• Begin a ritual as soon as work ends on Friday

Establish an after-work routine that begins the moment you leave the workplace. Consciously turn your thoughts away from work toward the weekend, putting mental distance between you and the job. When you arrive home, change into weekend attire and stash your briefcase and any other job paraphernalia behind closed doors. Indulge the old cliché: out of sight, out of mind.

Think about it. If you walk by your bulging briefcase or the leaning tower of files all weekend, you won’t be able to stop the intruding thoughts and concerns from invading your mind.

• Set a precedent OR take a stand concerning weekend availability

The best time to establish an unavailable-on-the-weekend policy is at the beginning of a job. Use a polite but firm “out of office” phone and email message to inform people not to expect an immediate response. This allows you to disconnect in relative comfort.

If you’re past the beginning stages of a job, it might be more difficult to establish a disconnected policy for the weekend. Still, the benefits of away-time are worth the effort to put a policy in place even after being “always on” has been the precedent.

• Create an in-case-of-emergency game plan

Some situations will constitute a genuine crisis that needs your attention on the weekend. Design a plan for being reachable in the case of an actual emergency then make yourself stop feeling guilty about being disconnected.

• Keep a notepad handy

Just because it’s the weekend, that doesn’t mean your brain will entirely shut down. Ideas or concerns, solutions or strategies will invade your mind and the effort to remember these important thoughts could throw a wrench in an otherwise enjoyable weekend. So keep a notepad handy for jotting down those tidbits then banish them from your brain until Monday morning when their potential can be fully explored.
At B. Loehr Staffing we understand the need for a career that fits your lifestyle. Whether you are looking for short-term, long-term, part-time or full-time employment opportunities, we can offer you the freedom and flexibility your lifestyle demands. Contact us today.

Setting Long-Term Career Goals 

b loehr - long term goalsIf you put more thought into planning your family vacations than into your career, well, that’s not a good thing. But unfortunately, you’re not alone. Because, even though most people have at least a vague idea of where they want to end up, career-wise, far too few put in the time and effort to make it become a reality.

Successful people in all walks of life understand the value of setting goals. For starters, goals give you long-term vision and invigorate short-term motivation. They create a point of focus that guides your quest for knowledge and organizes your time and resources. Working toward a specific career goal creates a sense of purpose and boosts self-confidence as you push ahead with the end in mind.

If the “long” part of long-term career goals makes you shy away from the entire idea, remember this. You achieve long-term career goals the same way you eat an elephant. One bite- in this case, step – at a time.

The first step is to answer the version of this question that best fits your situation–

What level/position do you want to reach in your career?

OR  . . . What specific achievement do you want to accomplish?

Be specific and don’t be afraid to dream—realistically, that is. Mull over the ideas that surface, taking the time to reach a well-thought-out conclusion.

Step 2: List the components essential to reach this goal

  • Will additional training or a specific degree be required?
  • Will you need to advance through several “rungs on the corporate ladder” in pursuit of this goal?
  • Will relocation be necessary?

Step 3: Break the overall goal into bite-sized pieces . . . err, smaller goals.

Determine short-term objectives concerning education – course or training to be completed, degree(s) achieved, etc. – specific “ladder rungs” to be conquered and relocation options. Include every step between where you are currently and the long-term career goal identified in step one.

Step 4: – Create a credible yet challenging timeline

Devise a timeline that strikes a balance between too-stressful-I-just-want-to-give-up and one that’s so laid back it sends an I-have-all-the-time-in-the-world-to finish vibe. This detailed plan should include short, short-term goals – to be completed in, say, a month – such as checking into the training and education requirements. Other steps will fall into six-month, one-year, two-years, etc., points on your timeline. Find a realistic spot for each of the objectives in step three.

Step 5: Put it all in writing

In fact, create a professional document worthy of being included in a presentation to the boss. Save this official record of your plan, print out several copies and place in key locations at home and the office. Save it in a picture format and use it as the background on your laptop. Make a dash-sized version. Why not a wallet-sized one as well? In other words, keep it from and center, placing it where ever it will serve as a reminder.

Step 6: Review and update as needed

Even the best-laid plans hit bumps. Don’t let unexpected obstacles sideline your long-term career goals. Re-evaluate, make adjustments and continue pursuing those goals.

  1. Loehr Staffing’s employees enjoy one of the most competitive pay and benefits packages in the industry as well as excellent opportunities for personal and professional growth. Allow our premier staffing services to assist you in reaching your long-term career goals. Contact us today.