The Importance of Analytical Skills in the Workplace
Analytical skills are one of the hottest skills in the Australian job market right now, and for the right reasons too! An analytical thinker makes a lot of difference in any organisation—they are better planners, calculated decision-makers and also know how to leverage collaboration to achieve long-lasting results for their organisations.
When confronted with a problematic situation, analytical thinkers logically analyse the challenge and apply critical thinking to arrive at an effective solution.
So how do you help your workforce to develop analytical skills that are not only valuable for them but also impact your organisation positively?
This article will highlight some of the most critical analytical thinking skills and share training tips for up-skilling your workforce.
Next Read: Find out more about the importance of an effectively trained workforce.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What are analytical skills?
- Why improve your analytical skills for the workplace?
- What are the different types of analytical skills that are essential for the workplace?
- Tips for training employees to develop analytical skills
What are analytical skills?
Analytical skills refer to soft skills that enable individuals to critically assess complex situations and come up with feasible solutions within a reasonable timeframe.
They cut across a wide range of competencies, from forecasting to problem-solving—all of which empower individuals to analyse data patterns, extract valuable insights and arrive at meaningful conclusions.
Analytical skills are versatile and transferable, which means they apply to multiple roles simultaneously. For example, one can use their problem-solving skills to resolve issues related to administrative tasks, customer-facing functions and team management. Thus, having a fully equipped workforce with analytical skills makes it easier for an organisation to scale and empowers individual contributors on the team to grow into leadership roles.
Why are analytical skills important for the workplace?
The importance of analytical thinking can be explained with two focus areas: decision-making and workplace efficiency. Now, let’s discuss these benefits in detail.
Analytical skills lead to better decision-making
People with analytical skills are better decision-makers because they consider situations holistically before forming opinions or arriving at conclusions.
For example, analytical thinking allows you to look beyond the surface to discover gaps and loopholes that others might have missed. These insights are then used to make strategic decisions that positively impact the organisation.
Analytical skills increase workplace efficiency
Analytical skills increase workplace efficiency because employees learn how to work smarter, not harder. They understand what brings the most value for the business and channel their time and resources to these areas.
Some examples of analytical skills are, working smarter, not harder, meaning you could automate manual tasks, turn more meetings into emails or embrace asynchronous teamwork to meet deadlines.
Examples of analytical skills
Here are just a few examples of the best analytical skills you can look out for.
Problem-solving is not only the ability to think and display creative thinking but the ability to make decisions and develop feasible solutions for simple to complex problems quickly and effectively. It is a step-by-step process that broadly covers three stages, namely:
- Identifying the root cause of the problem
- Highlighting possible solutions
- Determining the best-fit one
Stage 1: Identifying the root cause(s) of the problem
To problem-solve with analytical thinking, you need to know what caused it in the first place. And you can discover this through research.
Start by collecting data about the context of the problem, such as the timeframe, effects and solutions tried in the past. Next, analyse all of the relevant information you’ve gathered to discover meaningful insights regarding possible causes of the problem.
Stage 2: Brainstorming possible solutions
Use the insights drawn from the possible root causes of the problem to develop viable solutions. Some strong skills that can help you here include:
- Creative communication
- Logical reasoning
Stage 3: Evaluating solutions to determine the best-fit
You need to evaluate the possible solution you listed out to know what is feasible and what isn’t. So, in addition to focusing on how effective the solution is, an important question you should ask here is, “can we implement this solution with the resources, budget and time at our disposal?”
Consider each solution holistically, including its costs, alternative forgone, possible barriers to implementation and long-term impact.
Once you’ve done these, the next step is implementing the solution and measuring its success. Ideally, you’d want to know if the solution is working and how well it’s working as soon as possible. This new information will enable you to make needed iterations along the way.
Critical thinking is the ability to assess a situation logically and with little or no bias to arrive at the most objective conclusions.
Critical thinking isn’t about being negative. Instead, it’s about approaching information with genuine curiosity and questioning the obvious solution.
Critical thinkers are better decision-makers because they can separate objective information from one ridden with assumptions. They develop key competencies that help them to:
- Think systematically
- Avoid generalisation
- Recognise logical fallacies
- Make calculated judgments
- Embrace logical thinking to arrive at rational solutions.
Examples of critical thinking scenarios in the workplace include:
- An employee evaluates potential solutions to a problem to determine which one would be most effective.
- A customer success manager reviews client feedback and uses this information to optimise the organisation’s customer journey map.
- A maintenance engineer troubleshoots faulty equipment to identify the issue, determine root causes, and develop effective solutions.
Communication skills are interpersonal skills required for success in any organisation. Excellent communication helps the workplace to function as a unit.
It enables the smooth transfer of information from one person to the other, allows for smooth organisational operations and increases overall productivity.
To communicate effectively in the workplace, employees must fully grasp written and oral communication skills. That said, here’s an overview of the basic skills required for effective workplace interactions:
- Active listening – means listening with rapt attention. Practising active listening can reduce miscommunication and information gaps in the workplace.
- Teamwork – is the collaborative effort towards achieving a common goal or completing a task most effectively and efficiently. When employees work together, they can draw from diverse experiences and knowledge to get things done in less time, improving your organisation’s efficiency.
- Friendliness – means being open and warm towards others. It helps employees build deeper connections in the workplace and creates a positive work culture.
- Confidence – is the general sense of belief in one’s self and ideas. Confident people can assert their opinions boldly and are active contributors in the workplace.
- Collaboration – is the ability to work with others for a common goal.
Other analytical thinking skills include:
- Creativity – helps employees and learners develop out-of-the-box ideas that unconventionally solve problems. More than having critical thinking skills, you also need employees who can create original, creative solutions that make you stand out from the competition.
- Data analysis skills – empowers trainees and employees to make sense of extensive data and interpret data sets for informed decision-making.
- Research – is the key to discovering new insights, fact-checking information and investigating ideas before implementation.
How to improve analytical skills in the workplace
The significant challenge organisations face when recruiting for analytical skills is the shortage of a talented workforce. There are software and job interview techniques you can use to assess soft skills and competency in this area. If you are hiring managers or employees who need training then you will be aware as to how much time will be involved in developing them.
Workplace training providers play vital roles in helping organisations to upskill their workforce. For example, they can help companies create analytical skills training plans, design learning curriculums for different skill sets, facilitate training sessions, and conduct accurate assessments.
In addition to these, here are a few tips you can implement in-house to help employees develop strong analytical skills:
Teach employees to consider opposing viewpoints
When brainstorming on possible solutions to a problem, encourage employees to consider opinions that do not align with theirs, no matter how bizarre or out of place these ideas are. Instead, teach employees to think of opposing ideas beyond the surface level—they should be able to construct well-thought-out arguments regarding what makes an idea right or wrong. This will help them expand their perspectives and combat bias.
Include games in their learning curriculum
Logic games like puzzles and brain teasers are fun ways for employees to develop strong analytical skills. As employees engage in the different exercises, they’d learn to examine situations from multiple angles, build logical arguments and leverage data analysis for effective decision-making. For example, Sudoku, the mathematical puzzle, tests one’s logical reasoning, data analysis and numerical skills.
Enrol employees in online analytical training courses
There are numerous introductory, intermediary and advanced analytical skills online courses. For example, suppose you want employees and trainees to learn more about data analysis and critical thinking. In that case, you can purchase a one-time course for them like Harvard Online’s Data Science Principles, which provide a foundation in the language of data.
Cloud Assess makes analytical skills training easy and scalable
With Cloud Assess, you can quickly deliver analytical training for learners and employees. You can host multiple analytical training courses in our learning management system, track learner progress, conduct assessments and collect feedback all in one place. See how it works here.