Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 117

CRITICAL THINKING 2. An organizational climate that values, expects, and rewards critical thinking and innovation 3. A shared understanding of the specific critical thinking skills and behaviors most important for on-the-job success 4. Faculty members who integrate critical thinking instruction into all classes and effectively model critical thinking skills 5. A comprehensive assessment program to facilitate organizational agility Although the researchers identified these keys specifically for implementing a program in the Human Terrain System (which hired civilians for its teams), their findings are relevant to any military educational program that measures its success by the degree to which graduates think critically on the job—and not merely how much learners enjoy their classes. An Effective Talent Management Program to Inform Hiring, Employment, and Retention Practices The first key is to establish an effective talent management program at the earliest possible opportunity, preferably from the start. Until an organization gets talent management right, with a high degree of person-job and person-organization fit, it will have very limited success with its other functions.4 Designing an effective talent management program, however, takes time. Because the Human Terrain System was started in response to a JUONS, there was a great sense of urgency in fielding teams. This urgency, unfortunately, precluded the type of initial talent management analysis that was needed, with the result that many Human Terrain System staff and team members were hired solely based on the academic degrees they held. Some members were not very compatible with the organization and tasks. To avoid hiring unsuitable applicants, a talent management program should include the following: A job-task analysis that identifies the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors required for each position on a team A comprehensive applicant screening that includes cognitive, social, and physical suitability for the job and organization • • MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 • An evaluation of applicants’ critical thinking skills • An evaluation of prospective faculty members’ critical thinking and teaching skills before hiring Much has been written elsewhere about the program’s struggles early on. Suffice it to say that until the Human Terrain System implemented the talent management program, none of t he other necessary innovations and improvements in training and education were possible.4 An Organizational Climate that Values, Expects, and Rewards Critical Thinking and Innovation The second key to teaching critical thinking skills is to ensure the organizational climate values critical and innovative thinking. Building upon, and made possible by, a talent management program, an organization demonstrates its commitment to these values by expecting and rewarding critical thinking and innovation. An organizational climate emerges when a majority of the members form consensual, collective perceptions regarding such things as organizational purpose, values, and priorities.5 An organization’s leaders, both formal and informal, must play the main role in establishing an organizational climate.6 Indeed, some of the informal leaders in the Human Terrain System training and education directorate were instrumental in helping generate the collective feeling that critical thinking was an essential requirement for the team members. Examples of this include faculty members with recent experience on human terrain teams emphasizing the importance of critical thinking, and the supervisor for the contractor faculty leading the critical thinking faculty development sessions. The establishment of the climate was not instantaneous. Through the talent management program—screening and selective hiring of faculty; dismissal of individuals who lacked the required knowledge, skills, and behaviors; and the continual efforts of the leadership—the change in organizational climate became effective. A Shared Understanding of the Specific Critical Thinking Skills and Behaviors Most Important for Onthe-Job Success The third key is to achieve a shared understanding of the needed skills and behaviors—to identify them and 111