Learning New Skills at Work Is Complicated

brain diagram for Learning New Skills at Work

Learning New Skills at Work is Not Easy
When you want to upgrade the skills of your workforce, know from the beginning that learning new skills at work is complicated.  Unfortunately most new work skills are not acquired by simply reading or observing others; you cannot become a pro golfer by devouring all the books on the subject or watching tournaments on TV.

And surprisingly to many, learning new skills at work does not happen by attending one-time training programs.  Based upon measuring over 800 training programs, our research shows that only 1-in-5 participants on average change their behavior and performance from training alone.  Behavior and performance change takes alignment, commitment, desire, feedback, practice and reinforcement.

Begin the Learning Process Right
If you are interested in learning new skills at work, treat the process like a change initiative, not a learning event.  That means starting with high levels of relevance to the (1) business, (2) the participants and (3) their bosses.  We call this 3X Relevance.  Without it, do not expect more than 20% of your target audience to proficiently apply the new skills on the job.

Before launching a training program designed to build new work skills, you need all key stakeholders on board.  All three levels of stakeholders must believe that it is in their own best interests to invest the time and energy to learn the new work skills compared to all the other priorities on their plate.  You need to build a compelling story around how the new skills will help each individual, their team and, ultimately, the organization as a whole.

Break It Down Into Micro Behaviors
Once your business case for learning is clear and agreed to by your key stakeholders, your next step is to break down the desired skills into the micro behaviors that tie directly to your desired performance outcomes.  For example, to learn how to hit a winning serve in tennis, you need to:

  • Have the proper stance
  • Use the appropriate grip technique
  • Toss the ball correctly
  • Coil, bend your knees, and swing the racquet to gather energy and gain power
  • Hit the ball at the peak
  • Follow through

Create a New Habit with Micro Behaviors
New behaviors create new performance results when they become habits.  The best way to create new habits is to pair a behavior with a cue and then practice them over and over.  For example, let’s say you decided that team meetings needed to be more effective.

  • The first skill to be learned might be preparing an agenda.
  • The cue would be the scheduling of a meeting.
  • The micro behavior would be itemizing the agenda.

Then spend the first portion of your next meeting, revising and refining it with meeting attendees.  If you follow this process for each new meeting, you’ll soon need far less time to put it together; the behavior will become routine.

Next you can perhaps focus on meeting facilitation skills – how to keep on topic, how to handle conflict, how to stay on time, how to encourage open exchange of ideas, etc.  One skill will build upon another and soon your meetings will be far more productive.

The Bottom Line
Learning new skills at work is a process that requires building new habits that are relevant to the participants, their bosses and the organization as a whole.  To make a difference, focus time, energy and resources on doing it right – with cues associated with behaviors that add up to skills that become habits and that matter.

To learn more about learning new skills at work, download How to Transfer of Skills and Knowledge from Training to the Job

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We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

I am very impressed with the quality of work and talent. LSA did a great job of listening to my needs and providing the exact management training program expertise I needed to get the job done.

Don Pryor
Director, Business Planning & Analysis

The LSA Global team was very receptive and flexible to our needs every step of the way. Their staff and facilitator demonstrated attention to detail, responsiveness, and professional courtesy. The participants were thrilled with the outcome and rated the communication skills workshop and the facilitator as ‘Excellent’. I’d highly recommend working with the LSA Global team to meet your professional development needs.

John Mastrorilli
FRDP Leader

Intuit

The refreshing thing about LSA is that they focus on understanding our business situation and helping me succeed instead of selling a product. With over 150 experts, they are an invaluable resource that helps me deliver higher quality results faster. I recommend them to anyone looking to improve the performance of their workforce.

Stacie Rodgers
VP of Human Resources

Cutera

I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

Tracy Esposito
Director, HR Business Partner

We have worked with LSA Global for our learning and development needs and have always had great success. They helped us recently with customized Management Workshops that we held for the second time. It was fantastic, and I would highly recommend LSA to anyone that is attempting to get immediate and impactful improvements.

Mary Johnston
HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

In my years working with LSA, it seems like I’ve had a personal consultant at my fingertips to help me identify just the right solution to satisfy our needs. The entire LSA team has become a trusted friend of Actel — assuring we provide state-of-the-art learning to meet our complex, high-tech business and people needs.

Linda Mitchell
Training Manager

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich
CEO

Edify

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

LSA helped to meet the needs of my teams within a very narrow timeframe. My team walked away with highly useful management tools and practices. LSA saved us time in delivering the right solution for our specific needs.

Sandeep Kumar
Director, Software Engineering, EPG

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