2 Simple Steps for Improved Critical Thinking

Heres how leaders can ensure Millennials and Generation Z improve
their critical thinking skills according to a top-ranked leadership expert.


Online and social media serve as the main source of news for the majority of 18-34 years-old. Not surprisingly, Millennials and Generation Z are the least likely generations to turn to TV, radio, or print for news. 

It’s becoming increasingly important for Millennials and Generation Z to apply critical thinking to the news and information they consume on a daily basis.

In a recent interview with top-ranked leadership expert and author of The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap Between How Good You Are and How Good You Could Be, Mark Sanborn, I asked him…

How can leaders help Millennials and Generation Z develop better critical thinking skills?

"The faster something validates our world view, the quicker we adopt that point,” says Sanborn. The lack of critical thinking is preventing [Millennials and Generation Z] from building confidence to earn success and reach their highest potential.

2 Simple Steps for Improved Critical Thinking

1.Get the Facts:

Sanborn describes the basic tenants of critical thinking as...

  • Says who?
  • How do they know?

"Just as easy as it is to access the wrong info, it’s easy to background a question,” says Sanborn. Sanborn suggest checking various verification sites like Snopes to check facts and verify information. 

2. Interpret the Facts:

"Everyone is influenced by culture and media. We don’t really think for ourselves, we use inputs from others like our parents, friends, etc. who are a product of their parents, friends, teachers, pastors, and authors,” says Sanborn.

Unfortunately, most of the time people are not looking for information, they are looking for validation. In order to develop better critical thinking skills, Sanborn suggests...

  • Ask yourself: Am I looking for validation or information? 
  • If you are looking for validation, ask yourself: Why? 

If you are not willing to examine your beliefs, you are not thinking critically. Sanborn says, “Most [people’s] thinking today is getting information—often opinion based—and then using that to validate their emotions rather than to educate their thinking."

Sanborn concluded, "We are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts...Critical thinking is getting the facts and then making your own interpretation of those facts."

Listen to my full interview with Sanborn here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

How to Reduce Smartphone Distraction at Work (and Home)

Whether at work or home, these five tips will ensure your smartphone doesn’t get the best of you.


The Most In-Demand Hard Skills

“Hard skills” concern one’s ability to do a specific task.

1. Cloud Computing:

As the world rushes toward the cloud, companies are desperately searching for engineers who have the skills to accommodate this demand.

2. Artificial Intelligence:

The age of AI is here and growing fast.

3. Analytical Reasoning:

As they collect more data than ever before, companies are hungry for professionals who can make smart decisions based
off of it.

4. People Management:

The world has changed from a “command-and-control” model toward leaders who can coach and empower, a difficult skill set few professionals possess.

5. UX Design:

UX design is the key to making a digital world work for humans.

6. Mobile Application Development:

A skill that’s been in demand for several years as companies continue to design mobile-first platforms.

7. Video Production:

Demand for video production is spiking as video streaming represents 70 percent of all consumer Internet traffic.

8. Sales Leadership:

Sales is one of those skills that’s always in-demand, and great sales leaders are only becoming harder and harder to find.

9. Translation:

We are more connected globally than ever before, with translation skills breaking down one of the last remaining barriers: language.

10. Audio Production:

Audio Production: Similar to video, there’s been a spike in interest in podcasts and other audio digital formats recently, leading to increased demand for this skill.


Additional reading: Read this to learn how parents can prepare kids for a high-tech world and read this for five actions to take to raise tech-healthy kids.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

The Most Hired Employees Have These Skills

These are the skills colleges and employers should focus on in
order to close the growing skills gap for Generation Z.

Today’s expanding skills gap is threatening the long-term prosperity of many (if not all) organizations.

The labor pool shrinking, technology forcing reskilling, and global competition heating up are all contributing to the widening of today's skills gap.

Leaders have identified the skills shortage as a top concern that needs to be addressed. In fact, 75 percent of human resource professionals who have recruiting difficulty say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings.

Only 42 percent of employers believe new Gen Z graduates are adequately prepared for the workforce, especially with social and emotional skills. Additionally, more than a third of human resources leaders agree colleges are most responsible for getting an employee work ready. 

The tension between teaching to a test so students score high enough to get funding and preparing students to be career and life ready is the unfortunate dilemma education is faced with today. The ultimate job should be for career readiness, but the immediate job of test scores is getting in the way.

This is partially why higher education is overdue for a shake up and organizations like TopRock.org, where students can use their smartphone to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 7 months, are going to be the future.

More than 40 percent of companies have not collaborated with colleges to make the curriculum more responsive to workplace needs and, as a result, almost a third of colleges do not have a pipeline of talent with the right skills to fill employers’ current and future roles.

Nearly half of employers attribute job openings going unfilled to a lack of qualified candidates. Yet, 74 percent of companies are only investing $500 per employee on training and development between upskilling and reskilling. (Upskilling is learning new competencies to stay in a current role, due to the change in skills required, or adding certain competencies for career progression. Reskilling is learning new sets of competencies to transition to a completely new role.)

The bottom line is, colleges aren’t preparing Gen Z for jobs and companies aren’t investing enough in training Gen Z.

LinkedIn recently determined the hard and soft skills companies need most by looking at skills that are in high demand relative to their supply. Demand was measured by identifying the skills listed on the LinkedIn profiles of people who are getting hired at the highest rates.

The below highlights the skills colleges should focus on and employers should hire and/or train for.

The Most In-Demand Soft Skills

“Soft skills” are personality traits and behaviors.

1. Creativity:

While robots are great at optimizing old ideas, organizations most need creative employees who can conceive the solutions of tomorrow with relevancy and novelty.

2. Persuasion:

Having a great product, a great platform or a great concept is one thing, but the key is persuading people to buy into it.

3. Collaboration:

As projects grow increasingly more complex and global in the age of AI, effective collaboration only grows more important.

4. Adaptability:

An adaptable mind is an essential tool for navigating today’s ever-changing world, as yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s problems.

5. Time Management:

A timeless skill, mastering time management is career enhancing and highly useful in today’s distraction-filled world.


The Most In-Demand Hard Skills

“Hard skills” concern one’s ability to do a specific task.

1. Cloud Computing:

As the world rushes toward the cloud, companies are desperately searching for engineers who have the skills to accommodate this demand.

2. Artificial Intelligence:

The age of AI is here and growing fast.

3. Analytical Reasoning:

As they collect more data than ever before, companies are hungry for professionals who can make smart decisions based
off of it.

4. People Management:

The world has changed from a “command-and-control” model toward leaders who can coach and empower, a difficult skill set few professionals possess.

5. UX Design:

UX design is the key to making a digital world work for humans.

6. Mobile Application Development:

A skill that’s been in demand for several years as companies continue to design mobile-first platforms.

7. Video Production:

Demand for video production is spiking as video streaming represents 70 percent of all consumer Internet traffic.

8. Sales Leadership:

Sales is one of those skills that’s always in-demand, and great sales leaders are only becoming harder and harder to find.

9. Translation:

We are more connected globally than ever before, with translation skills breaking down one of the last remaining barriers: language.

10. Audio Production:

Audio Production: Similar to video, there’s been a spike in interest in podcasts and other audio digital formats recently, leading to increased demand for this skill.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Full Disclosure: I’m a proud trustee of Top Rock University.

While technology skills dominate the most in-demand hard skills list, skills like Video and Audio Production (as well as Journalism, Social Media Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Competitive Strategies which made the top 25 list) making the list point to how companies are looking for new ways to tell their story and stand out in a noisy market.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

This Has Been a Top Employee Motivator for over 46 Years

Employee recognition is key for unlocking Generation Z loyalty and performance.
Here are the three things managers must communicate when recognizing employees.

After reviewing four similar studies of employee motivation conducted in 1946, 1980, 1986, and 1992, Carolyn Wiley, the Department Chair for Management, Leadership, & Human Resources at Roosevelt University, uncovered top responses such as “interesting work,” “job security,” “good wages,” and “feeling of being in on things.”

Yet over the 46 years of studies, only one answer was cited every time among the top two motivators

“Full appreciation of work done.”

Recognition at work is essential. Even though Millennials and Generation Z may expect a different pace and medium for recognition than other generations, recognition is still universally expected across generations. Yet, it’s not universally practiced.

According to Wiley, “More than 80 percent of supervisors claim they frequently express appreciation to their subordinates, while less than 20 percent of the employees report that their supervisors express appreciation more than occasionally.”

It’s clear there is a recognition gap. And this gap is likely to widen as Generation Z enters the workforce with new appetites and expectations for how, when, and why managers deliver recognition.

In the past, the expectations surrounding recognition were yearly, quarterly, or at best, monthly—hence the popularity of "employee of the month" programs.

Thanks to the convergence of mobile technology and on-demand information, Generation Z will expect recognition to be more personal, helpful, and frequent—closer to weekly than yearly.

In fact, according to a new study by The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace, 32 percent of Generation Z measure their success based on the recognition they receive from managers. Recognition from managers was Gen Z's number two measure of success behind “respect from co-workers.”

In addition, according to the same study, nearly a third of Gen Z is motivated to work harder and stay longer at a company if they have a supportive manager, and 37 percent would never tolerate an unsupportive manager.

Supportive managers should strive to communicate these three things when recognizing Generation Z employees:

    1. I recognize your good work
    2. I value you
    3. We’re going places together

Fill the air of your organization with gratitude and appreciation and be rewarded with Generation Z loyalty and high-performance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

3 Things All Humans Want at Work (And Life)

These three human needs are the hidden operating system running your work life.
Satisfy these needs and unlock greater fulfillment.

The three things humans are wired to do are survive, belong, and become.

At first glance, survive, belong, and become seem too primal to apply to today's highly-advanced modern world. But a deeper look reveals these are the cornerstones of human behaviors. 

Survive, belong, and become are actually the hidden operating system running our work lives.

In my recent interview with Britt Andreatta, PhD, consultant and author of Wired to Grow: Harness the Power of Brain Science to Master Any Skill, she shared how these three primary human needs are showing up in today’s modern workplace.

1. Survive

"Survive is our need for food, water, and shelter," says Andreatta. “The survive instinct can get triggered around our paycheck because that’s how we buy food, water, and shelter.”

According to Andreatta, the survive instinct is present when, “people think to themselves, 'do I have the skills to be successful at my job.’” For many, survive lives in the relationship with whomever writes their performance reviews. “[Managers] evaluate what level of contribution you made and that provides access to promotions, raises, and bonuses or perhaps sidelined or even fired,” says Andreatta.

Survive also lives in our relationships with our coworkers. As humans, we are consistently evaluating if our coworkers are obstructing us from success or supporting us in success.

2. Belong

"Belong is our need to be accepted for who we are, to be cared for by others, and be involved in a meaningful community,” says Andreatta. "Belong is tightly wound to our sense of survival because we are a tribal species and biologically wired to live and work together and survive together."

Because people spend most of their waking hours at work, a sense of belonging is triggered by work. Work is a profound place to find belonging.

As a survival technique, humans are biologically wired to scan the tribe to identify where they stand. The human brain will ask questions like these...

  • Am I in the center of the tribe as a leader, in the neutral middle, or being pushed out or excluded from the tribe?
  • Am I being seen for what I contribute?
  • Am I being valued by the others?

Belonging is important to humans because “when we were cave men and women living on the plains and if your tribe ousted you, your literal chances of survival were minimal,” says Andreatta. After all these years, our biology still works this way.

"This is not about being popular. It’s about being valued,” Andreatta continues. "At a minimum, most of us need to know we can make a contribution—using our strengths, gifts, or talents—and what is contributed is valued by the team. They may not like me, but I am needed.”

Our biological stress decreases and frees us up to do higher-level work when we can confidently say, “Yes, I can continbcute. And yes, I’m valued."

3. Become

“Become is our need to learn and grow to become our best selves; to live to our fullest potential,” says Andreatta. “Become is our greatest need and human's greatest satisfaction comes from becoming our best selves.”

"Most companies want their people to get to the become level but most companies don’t satisfy the survive and belong needs so people can’t get to the become stage,” says Andreatta. 

The become need is present at work in the opportunities to learn and grow. Organizations interested in unlocking the greatest potential of their people will need to prioritize learning and development. And individuals interested in becoming their best selves must be committed to lifelong learning.

The become need is ongoing. Andreatta describes it like "the rotating ladder-like strands of human DNA...we never get to the top."

Life's a journey, not a destination.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

This Is the Most Valuable Skill on Earth

The greatest resource and skill on the planet is at your disposal.

What if you personally possessed the most valuable resource on Earth?

How would you wield such a prized resource? Would you consume, hoard, or share it?

You would probably want to protect it at all costs, considering it’s the world's most valuable resource.

You do possess this mighty resource. In fact, you’re expending it right now reading this article.

The world’s most valuable resource is...

Attention.

Facebook is in the attention-grabbing business and they have a current market cap of $630 billion. That is more than the market cap of the two biggest oil companies in the United States, Chevron and Exxon Mobile, combined. 

Extracting oil and natural gas is big business, but extracting attention from humans is even a bigger business. Attention is the new oil in today’s economy.

If attention is the most coveted resource, then someone who controls this resource would maintain great wealth and power.

What does a wise person with access to the world’s greatest resource do? Barter. They don’t carelessly give away the resource. They trade it for other valuable items.

Similarly, protect your attention resource and only trade it for things of equal or greater value.

  • Give your attention to a coworker. Gain trust.
  • Give your attention to a stranger. Gain empathy.
  • Give your attention to a task. Gain progress.
  • Give your attention to work. Gain experience.
  • Give your attention to a customer. Gain loyalty.
  • Give your attention to learning. Gain knowledge.
  • Give your attention to your breath. Gain composure.

Be cautious trading your attention for endless scrolling and sophisticated algorithms. While sometimes this results in amusement, discovery, and learning, more often it results in sunk time and lower self-esteem.

If attention is today's most valuable resource, then focus is one of the most valuable skills. In an instantaneous and ever-changing world, the ability to direct and maintain one’s attention is a superpower. Those with focus might be the most valuable workers of the future for they can learn anything they center their attention on.

2 Examples of Attention Abuse

Leaders, companies, and institutions can no longer demand people’s attention, they must adapt to earn it.

1. Company Training

Too often valuable employee attention is affixed to company training that is long, irrelevant, and forgotten. Conversely, SyncLX creates learning experiences that leverage micro-learning courses and activities that maximize learners attention and enables them to consume on the go.

The organizations that treat employee attention as the valuable resource that it is will be revered and rewarded with better-focused, more engaged, and loyal talent...especially with the emerging generations.

2. Education

Why is a college class on bowling the same length as an accounting class? That’s an abuse of attention. Conversely, Top Rock University empowers students to complete short lessons, at their own pace, and earn a degree in months not years all via a smartphone.

Don’t give Instagram your future. Stop scrolling and start learning. 

Where you spend your attention, defines you. Wield it well.


AUTHOR NOTE:
This will be my last article for this column. Thank you for your attention over the years. You can continue to follow my work as a speaker, author, co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies #1 asset—their people…and as President of Top Rock University, a digital university where students can earn a bachelor's degree for a fraction of the cost and time of a traditional university all via their smartphone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.