People aren’t picking up new skills fast enough? It might be your fault. Six questions to ask yourself

In a recent webinar on 6 Keys to Creating Learning Experiences that Inspire and Engage, 76% of participants said that in their opinion, at least 60% of a person’s success on the job can be attributed to their ability to learn job specific skills. Yet only 9% identified that any company they had ever worked for used a mindful process when teaching people new skills.  For most of the webinar participants, learning a new skill was something they had to figure out for themselves while on the job.

If learning is important to success in today’s complex business environment, why don’t more organizations take the time to train people in the skills they need more effectively?

It’s because most managers and leaders are not trained how to teach according to Dr. Vicki Halsey, Vice President of Applied Learning at The Ken Blanchard Companies.   Most leaders are more accustomed to telling instead of teaching—and are often disappointed when they check back to see how people are doing with applying new skills.

If you want your people to pick up new skills more quickly, Halsey recommends addressing six areas when rolling out a new initiative.  Have you got a new program that you are getting ready to launch?  See if you you’ve covered these six basics to maximize learning and application.

  1. Energize learners.  Set the context for learning before anyone steps into the classroom.  What can people do to get up-to-speed on this subject?  What can they read, or who can they talk with, to become as excited about this topic as you are?
  2. Navigating the content.  Is the presentation learner friendly? Have you put together a good structure that includes breaking the content down into bite-sized chunks that people can easily digest?  Or have you designed this as a lecture type presentation where you will be doing all the talking and it will be a challenge just getting through the content—let alone actually retaining anything?
  3. Generate meaning.  Have you connected the dots so people see why learning this new content is important?  People need to see why they should take the time to invest in learning new skills.  Your job as a leader is to provide that meaning.
  4. Apply the learning.  What does this new skill look like in the real world?  Have you included some opportunities to practice the real life application of this new skill—or is that something you are leaving up to individual learners to figure out for themselves?
  5. Gauge and celebrate.  How will you measure if people are really doing something different with the content?  Don’t be vague on this point.  What is the business metric you are looking to impact?  ROI is something you need address at the beginning of a new initiative—not after the fact.
  6. Extend the learning.  How will you keep the initiative alive beyond the initial rollout?  New habits take time to develop and a lot of support in the early days.  What is your follow-up plan?  How will you ensure that skills learned in the classroom are applied back on the job?

A 2010 Bersin report shows that organizations that successfully create strong learning cultures are more likely to be strong innovators in their markets, more likely to get to market before competitors, and more likely to be a market-share leader.

Learning new skills is an important necessity in today’s work environment.  Don’t leave it to chance in your organization.  Take a proactive approach to teaching people new skills.

One thought on “People aren’t picking up new skills fast enough? It might be your fault. Six questions to ask yourself

  1. points 2 and 3 are vital. If I start handing you books you will soon be exhausted and standing in a pile of books. If i give you a bookcase and a numbering system and THEN hand you books, you can put them in context. you have a framework that lets you know why things are important and how to refer to them later

    this is a figurative bookcase – just ib case anyone wa confused

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