• Stacey Rivers

Why "Learning" is the Next Skill Your Team Should Master

Last year I repurposed an article I wrote about the importance of why learning is the new skill everyone should master. Now looking at the world through the lens of COVID-19, it has become even more relevant. Thanks to Pluralsight for seeing the value in my position on this very important topic. You can view it here in “the mindset shift” collection.

Remember grade school, when we had folders and subject notebooks for each course? If you are a parent, you’re intimately aware of this because of money spent every school year on different colored folders. Teachers have a system designed to help students focus and retain knowledge for the specific subject area through organization and memorization. L&D and technology leaders also need a system to help their teams keep up with tech, build business-critical skills and apply them on the job in record time.

How effectively you acquire a new skill is specific to your learning style, which is the ability to retain information in a way that is practical and adaptable. “Learning” is not passive; it’s a skill that requires the same retention process you endured as a child, just at a faster pace. With the advancement of technologies such as cloud, AR, VR, AI, blockchain and cybersecurity, the way we work is quickly changing. We have to proactively build the right skills on our team, and build them rapidly enough to capitalize on these new trends and technologies. Learning how best to upskill your team efficiently is just as important as the act of upskilling them.

If you’re still not convinced, here are my top five reasons why learning is the next skill you should master:

  1. Technology will continue to advance and change the way we work.

  2. Jobs will require emerging skills for companies to stay relevant.

  3. Higher salaries are commensurate with higher level skills that are not easily obtained.

  4. Employees enjoy their work more when they have the right skills for the job.

  5. You take your skills wherever you go.

Once you’ve committed to focus on skill development at your organization, your next step is discovering the most effective way to do it, taking into account individual preferences, topics, delivery methods and consequences. Yes, “consequence” can be a motivator or stressor because some skills require exams to validate the required knowledge has been retained. The higher the stakes are for gaining a new skill, the more challenging it can be for the learner to process and apply it successfully.

One way to account for each individual’s unique skill development style and needs is to partner with a technology skills solution that provides a personalized experience for each employee. When evaluating solutions, ask yourself the following questions about how your team builds skills:

  • What was the last skill an employee learned that they were able to apply regularly?

  • Did they learn it from a formal course or an informal arrangement?

  • How was the information delivered: online, in person, on-demand? Was it a video, podcast, book or e-course? Did employees attend with peers, or was it self-paced?

  • How long did it take them to apply their new skill(s)?

  • What were the steps they took to retain the info?

  • How did they apply what they learned?

  • Was the process easy or difficult?

  • If difficult, how did they overcome the challenge(s)?

  • If employees could change how they engaged with new information to better suit their needs, what would this look like?

Once you answer the questions above, you should have some sense of the kind of solution that would have the greatest impact on your teams’ ability to build, retain and apply skills efficiently. Remember, an employee’s level of interest in a specific topic area is also a big factor in their learning process. The less interested they are, the less likely it is that they will retain the information. The pay-off comes when the topic is interesting, the delivery method is engaging, and the learner is committed to applying their new skill. Even further, continuing to research, refine and solidify their knowledge will take them from novice to expert.

As an L&D or tech leader, your job is to facilitate your team’s skill development. You are building the skill of upskilling others. With the right approach to developing skills in a personalized way to support each individual’s learning journey, you can reliably build skills across your organization and guarantee you are prepared for the future.

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