Analytical and critical skills for HR Professionals

Analytical and critical skills for HR Professionals

Analytical and critical skills for HR Professionals. The effectiveness of HR initiatives and the processes of problem solving and decision-making in which HR practitioners are constantly involved. The basis of all these is provided by evidence-based management

Evidence-based management

Evidence-based management is a method of informing decision-making by making use of appropriate information derived from the analysis of policy and practices and surveys of employee opinion within the organization, systematic benchmarking, and the messages delivered by relevant research.

It was defined as:‘A decision-making process combining critical thinking with the use of the best available scientific evidence and business information.’

  • The need for evidence-based management

  • The approach to evidence-based management

The need for evidence-based management:

Evidence-based HR is motivated by a basic fact: faulty practices and decision-making abound in HR. Companies persist in using unstructured interviews to assess a job candidate’s fit even though there is little evidence to support that.

HR departments often pursue one-size-fits-all standardization in their policies, despite considerable evidence that programs promoting flexibility benefit. In all honesty, can you answer ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Do you know the scientific evidence for ANY of the HR practices your company uses?

Recent surveys of HR practitioners lead us to suspect that the frank response from many readers is ‘no’.

The approach to evidence-based management :

There is four fundamental features in everyday management practice and decision-making:

  1. use of the best-available evidence from peer-reviewed sources

  2. systematic gathering of organizational facts, indicators and metrics to better act on the evidence

  3. practitioner judgement assisted by procedures, practices and framework that reduce bias, improve decision quality and create more vivid learning over time

  4. ethical considerations weighing the short- and long-term impacts of decisions on stakeholders and society

five-step approach was recommended by Briner:

  1. Practitioners or managers gain understanding of the problem or issue

  2. Internal evidence is gathered about the issue or problem leading, possibly, to a reformulation of the problem to make it more specific

  3. External evidence is gathered from published research

  4. The views of stakeholders are obtained

  5. All the sources of information are examined and critically appraised

What is done in organizations with the evidence depends largely on the context in which it is done. Cultural, social and political factors influence perceptions and judgements, and the extent to which people behave rationally is limited by their capacity to understand the complexities of the situation they are in and by their emotional reactions to it – the concept of bounded rationality

We need to understand the context – its impact on what is happening and how things are done. We need then to understand what actions can be taken to deal with the issues emerging from the situation

We need evidence that tells us what is going on within the organization, what has worked well elsewhere that might fit our requirements, and what research has revealed about policies and practices that will guide us in making our decisions. In other words, we need to practice evidence-based management using the analytical, logical reasoning and critical thinking skills

Analytical skills

Analysis is the process of breaking down a condition or state of affairs into its constituent parts and establishing the relationships between them. It involves discerning the particular features of a situation.

Analytical skills are used to gain a better understanding of a complex situation or problem. They involve the ability to visualize, articulate and solve complex problems and concepts and make decisions based on available information.

Analytical skills include the capacity to evaluate that information to assess its significance, and the ability to apply logical and critical thinking to the situation. They provide the basis for a diagnosis of the cause or causes of a problem

Logical reasoning

If you say that people are logical, you mean that they draw reasonable inferences – their conclusions can be proved by reference to the facts used to support them – and they avoid ill-founded and tendentious arguments, generalizations and irrelevancies.

Logical reasoning is the basis of critical thinking and evaluation. It takes place when there is a clear relationship (a line of reasoning) between the premise (the original proposition) and the conclusion, which is supported by valid and reliable evidence and does not rely on fallacious or misleading argument.

It is necessary to question assumptions, especially when a belief is expressed as a fact. You need to ask yourself – and others – ‘what’s the evidence for that?

The most common form of fallacies that need to be discerned in other people’s arguments, or avoided in one’s own, are summarized below :

  • Affirming the consequent – leaping to the conclusion that a hypothesis is true because a single cause of the consequence has been observed.

  • Begging the question – taking for granted what has yet to be proved.

  • Chop logic – ‘Contrarywise’, said Tweedledee, ‘if it was so, it might be, and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t it ain’t. Chop logic may not always be as bad as that, but it is about drawing false conclusions and using dubious methods of argument.

  • Confusing correlation with causation – assuming that because A is associated with B it has caused B. It may or may not.

  • False choice – a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options.

  • Potted thinking – using slogans and catchphrases to extend an assertion in an unwarrantable fashion.

  • Reaching false conclusions – forming the view that because some are, then all are. An assertion about several cases is twisted into an assertion about all cases. The conclusion does not follow the premise. This is what logicians call the ‘undistributed middle’.

  • Selective reasoning – selecting instances favorable to a contention while ignoring those that conflict with it.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the process of analyzing and evaluating the quality of ideas, theories and concepts to establish the degree to which they are valid and supported by the evidence, and the extent to which they are biased.

It involves reflecting on and interpreting data, drawing warranted conclusions and recognizing ill-defined assumptions.

‘Critical’ in this context does not mean disapproval or being negative. There are many positive uses of critical thinking, for example testing a hypothesis, proving a proposition or evaluating a concept, theory or argument

Critical thinking can occur whenever people weigh up evidence and make a judgement, solve a problem or reach a decision

Critical thinking calls for the ability to:

  • recognize problems and establish ways of dealing with them;

  • gather and marshal pertinent (relevant) information;

  • identify unstated assumptions and values;

  • interpret data, to appraise evidence and to evaluate arguments;

  • recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions;

  • draw warranted conclusions and make valid generalizations;

  • test assertions, conclusions and generalizations;

  • reconstruct ideas or beliefs by examining and analyzing relevant evidence.

Critical evaluation

Critical evaluation is the process of making informed judgments about the validity, relevance and usefulness of ideas and arguments. Critical evaluation means not taking anything for granted and, where necessary, challenging propositions.

Critical evaluation is required when testing propositions and evaluating the outcomes of research.

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