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5 steps to improve your analytical thinking skills

By Fi Darby

Have you ever considered your reaction when presented with a problem or project at work? If your response relies on close examination, precise methods and accurate details, then you already have some analytical thinking skills.

Analytical thinking is an employability skill highly valued by employers. Any interview you attend will almost certainly include questions designed to evaluate your ability to think in a controlled and analytical manner. 

SkillsTalk outline five steps you can take to improve your own analytical thinking skills.

Bosses like analytical thinking

woman boss looking impressed

  • Analytical thinkers make the best problem solvers, particularly when it comes to multi-faceted problems. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘bring me a solution, not a problem’? Real bosses like this approach because they know the best solutions come from research and attention to detail. The job role of business manager is showing strong growth across Australia and requires the ability to make key business decisions based on precise analysis.
  • We live and work in a world packed with information. In any organisation, this information flies in and out at a rapid pace. Being able to process it then act on the results is a vital skill for any employee. Our recent experiences with the coronavirus pandemic prove this. Imagine yourself working in the logistics industry right now. August 2020 saw more Australians shopping online than ever before. Great news for the industry but huge changes for operators as customer demand transformed almost overnight.
  • Managers with strong analytical skills are better at planning and leading complex projects. If your future career plans include a management role, now is the time to start working on this key area. Next time a position comes up, you want to be ready.

How to improve your analytical thinking skills

If you’ve ever been criticised for your ‘hasty’ thinking, then chances are you need to brush up on your analytical thinking skills. Even if you think you already take a precise and analytical approach, there is always room for improvement. Here are five top tips to help you become a better analytical thinker.

1. Understand your starting point.

Successfully learning any new skill depends on understanding your existing level. You might think you’re an analytical thinker but your colleagues may have different ideas. Next time you complete a task, take time afterwards to examine your methods. 

Did you gather all the relevant information? Did you consider more than one possible course of action? Did these actions bring about an effective and long lasting result? If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then chances are you need to make a few improvements.

2. Start noticing things.

If you think you already notice what’s going on around you, you might be surprised by how much actually passes you by. Take your work colleagues for example. Do you know who’s great at finance or who might be able to help you write a report? When you need advice about company history, do you know who to turn to? 

Another example here would be company data. When you read reports, try comparing them to previous versions, or noting which areas require improvement. You can always record your findings in a journal for use in the future. 

3. Unleash your inner detective.

bearded man reading book

It pays to exercise your inner Sherlock every day. By taking the time to understand more, you’ll be adding to your available bank of information. This could one-day help you stand out big time to your bosses. 

Try reading books around topics, asking questions to new people and studying fresh subjects to expand your knowledge. The most unexpected knowledge often eventually proves useful.

4. Set yourself goals.

It can often be too easy to settle into a job role and lose your focus on the wider picture. Goal setting doesn’t just help you in your career; it is actually good for your brain. In order to achieve a goal, multiple processes work together. The goal setting itself brings about changes in the brain to facilitate success. 

Learning goals are particularly effective as a way to promote analytical thinking. Take online courses as an example. The more you learn about a topic, the more information you have available to enlighten your analysis. Not only does success in study depend on the development of analytical thinking skills, it helps keep you motivated and interested in a subject.

5. Question your decisions.

It can be hard to take even the most constructive of criticism when decision-making goes wrong. However, this is a really important part of the analytical thinking process. Being able to look at results objectively and learn from them is vital. It will lead to improvements in future situations. Your analytical thinking skills will be best developed if you listen to other people and self-critique your own work. 

By understanding what you could have done better and what worked well, you can add to your bank of analytical power for the next time you need it. While learning from your mistakes is a well-known ideal, it's also important to make sure you learn from your successes.

Looking beyond the workplace

Online study offers the unique opportunity to increase your focus on details and can help expand your horizons. With Upskilled offering online courses across a wide range of industries, you could work towards a nationally-recognised qualification that can equip you with the relevant knowledge and skills in your desired industry.  

Get in touch with the Upskilled team today to find courses to help improve your analytical thinking and career prospects at the same time.
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.