The 4 Steps to Learning a New Skill
Leaders are learners! As a business owner or key executive, you should always strive to grow by learning something new. But, when your daily schedule makes it hard to even find time to eat lunch, learning something new often falls on the back burner until it becomes a complete necessity (and by that time, it’s likely too late to use the new skill as a competitive edge). No matter what skill or idea you have decided to learn, there are four learning stages that each individual goes through. Being aware of these stages can help you better accept and appreciate the slow, and frequently uncomfortable, learning process to understand just how much work you need to put in to become a master (especially when training new employees).
The First Step: Unconscious Incompetence (or Ignorance)
You don’t know what you don’t know. The baseline of all learning begins with being blissfully unaware of the skill (and your lack of proficiency in it). New ideas are thrown around at this stage, and energy is often high as enthusiasm grows around the potential of gaining the new skill without much knowledge on how much work will go into mastering it. It often also brings the uneasy feeling of stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new.
The Second Step: Conscious Incompetence (or Awareness)
Now that you’ve taken the next step in exploring how to learn the new skill, your eyes are open to exactly how much you don’t know about the subject at hand. You now know what you don’t know, and it often appears to be more difficult than originally anticipated. You are not yet proficient in the skill, and you recognize the deficit in your current knowledge or skillset. This step in the learning process often brings frustration and can feel painful, discouraging and overwhelming. This stage often takes the longest time because it takes a lot of effort from growing in awareness to developing the skills that help close the gap.
The Third Step: Conscious Competence (or Learning)
This step involves trying the skill out, experimenting and practicing. While you still need to think and work hard to do the skill the right way, you will soon hit the tipping point when you start to feel like you are actually getting it! Now is a great time to train others on the skill, write down your best practices, and find additional ways to do it better. It will become easier in no time.
The Last Step: Unconscious Competence (or Mastery)
Finally, performing this skill becomes automatic. You’ve had so much practice that it has become “second nature,” and can be performed easily. You are now consistent and strong in the execution of this skill. It’s in this step that it is important to avoid complacency and boredom, to continually challenge yourself to build upon and innovate this skill. It is also important to keep in mind the value of this skill and communicate its importance and uniqueness to your customers and clients.
What does your training look like for new employees?
Does your training process work your new employees through these four steps? Or, could your employees be muddling through unconscious incompetence of the new tasks or skillsets you’ve asked them to learn? Take some time to revisit your training program to make sure each step is understood within the process. Set goals for your employees on each step to lead them through the learning process as smoothly as possible.
What are your learning goals for 2020?
Are you curious to know what your employees believe needs to be improved upon in your business? We offer the Performance Gap Indicator, which combines anonymous individual employee responses from a 45-question survey and analyzes the results across 5 core performance areas called Non-Financial Key Performance Indicators (NF-KPIs).
Benefits of the Performance Gap Indicator include:
- Collect Anonymous Employee Feedback: Provide a safe space to create honest dialogue. Straight talk is the starting point for improvement.
- Gain Clarity & Focus: No more gut reactions. Know exactly where to focus your resources.
- Leverage Leading KPIs: Non-Financial KPIs are the leading indicators of business success. Learn to leverage what makes a difference.
- Identify High-Impact Opportunities: Execute with laser precision. Compete at a level the competition doesn’t even know exists.
- Take Immediate Action: Consider the PGI as Triage for your business. Identify your “Urgent Action Required” Issues.
- Measure Improvement & ROI: Quantify results and verify progress to confirm performance improvement.