Have you ever been on a training course and then come back to the office and been expected to use that skill immediately, with maximum effect – I have. I once went on a three day course with the expectation that I would build an interactive, in-house e-learning offering! OK, so we know that’s just not going to happen – you know me already!
How long should a new skill or behaviour take?
The answer is it depends on how much you use it. Let’s talk through what happens in 4 stages.
Stage 1 – The Learning
When learning something new, and especially if you’re really interested in the topic you will take in lots of information. Your synapses in your brain will be firing away and making new connections as you think about how you can use it
Stage 2 – The Reflecting
This stage takes place after the learning event has finished and you are on your own – normally your journey home. Especially if excited about your new behaviour or skill you are likely to continue to think about how you are going to use it, what you are going to tell people, how you will share your knowledge and as Stage 1 the synapses make even more connections
Stage 3 – In the workplace
If you’ve organised to have a meeting with your line manager this will be great at keeping your ideas alive. If you don’t, your synapses will quickly start to drop the connections ie. You start to forget.
Stage 4 – working life
If you start to embed your new skills and behaviours into your working life you will quickly speed up the level in which you can use them in an unconscious method
It’s like driving a car
1 – you have to mentally prepare yourself before starting the car, thinking in advance to what you are going to do. This is the slow process with actions carried out in a methodical way
2 – you have to think through everything you do –remember changing gears and going down one by one. By now you know what you need to do but still need to carry them out in a conscious method
3 – you have been driving a while now and stop thinking about what you need to do – it just comes naturally – this is when you are comfortable with something and like driving, it’s natural for you to do so. This is called unconsciously competent.
The more you do something, the quicker the learning. Also like driving, it’s good to get feedback from others to reaffirm that what you are doing is right
Unfortunately for those that don’t work on their new skill or behaviour it’s the naff saying of “if you don’t use it, you lose it”.
I wish you luck with embedding new skills and techniques.