Skill Development for Individuals and Small Groups

When, How, and Why Do Individuals and Group Participants. Learn and Improve Skills that Stick?

Here’s Ruth Schimel’s take on making skill development effective and worthwhile for all involved.

When, how and why is skill development more likely to work well?  When the:

  • Participants want to learn and see the reasons and relevance of a skill
  • Participants have influence in a development process designed for their natures, interests, and needs
  • Process of learning is practical, manageable, and engaging
  • Challenge is “just right” as in the three bear’s story ─ not too hard and not too easy
  • Understanding and concrete outcomes lead to new insights and catalysts for progress

What would you add to these bullets, based on your own experience and preferences?

What makes skill development stick, show up in action?

The old joke of ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.” does not suffice.

In addition to viable practice, contributing factors for improving current and using new skills  include:

  • Tangible and intangible rewards with meaning to participants
  • Feedback that’s concrete, doable, and reassuring
  • Opportunities to teach others for continuing learning and reinforcement

In today’s world of accelerating change, often the more valuable and relevant skills are soft or transferable skills such as leadership and empathy.  As with other soft skills, these examples combine many subskills.  Learning and improving them benefit from identifying the crucial, relevant components of the main skill.   Basic to the process is understanding the learner, context, and appropriate timing in relation to meeting goals.

Subtle and challenging to measure quantitatively, soft skills are important to learn in themselves as well as valuable catalysts for success in using job content skills.  There is likely to be disappointment when a third party assumes learning them can be a quick fix of performance issues.  Instead, group participants and individuals benefit from contributing to design, evaluation, and follow up to strengthen motivation and commitment.  All the better, when individuals choose the skills for attention and processes are as enjoyable as possible.

Processes for thriving from your professional and personal actions

Ruth Schimel PhD designs inspiring, practical ways to improve specific skills and sets of skills for individuals and small groups.  Examples that strengthen effective action are problem-solving, leading, and managing.  Empathizing and critical thinking are other examples.

This guidance is offered primarily online and with focused phone conversation and consultation, reinforced with a wide variety of short free guides.   Recordings are also encouraged for review of interactions.

Options to expand and deepen choices include planning for mutual mentoring, each-one-teach-one, unlearning, and accountability partnering.  Ways to integrate humor and storytelling in the processes that are chosen are also considered.  Throughout, practice and feedback arrangements are important aspects of skill development design on which Ruth and recipients collaborate for customizing.

Current and anticipated goals, interests, and challenges are considered in design. By attending first to unique needs, preferences, and values, opportunities and applications go beyond what’s commonly available elsewhere.  Emphasis is on creating, adapting, and applying information, ideas, and strategies that make a positive difference.  Outcomes focus on improving participants’ performance, work satisfaction, and enjoyment, as well as relationships.

Training trainers: Another opportunity is customized design to train trainers as multipliers for particular skill development within your group or organization.  Since teaching is often a fine way to learn, this approach encourages self-sufficiency and success for most everyone involved.

Resources: Ruth’s seven books and choices among hundreds of free short guides for professional and personal progress provide additional guidance, encouragement, and reinforcement for clients’ development. They also support continuing independent action prior to, during, and afterwards.  These resources and practice opportunities lead to realistic, incremental steps and concrete accomplishments while keeping costs, quality, and effectiveness in mind.

To explore Ruth’s low-cost Choose Courage series  and sample her free guides, see and and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future is now available at,

Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future is uniquely suited for individual and organizational use to design and strengthen readers’ preparation and opportunities for dynamic situations of the future.  With its focus on lifelong learning, technology, and soft skills, this book provides a personalized bridge from a current situation to the unknowns ahead.  Making that somewhat mysterious future more fathomable, it gives each reader tools, hope, and inspiration for their independent action.  The book also deepens and expands their connections for learning and professional relationships.  Additional information about the content of Happiness and Joy In Work: Preparing for Your Future and access to the bonus chapter are provided here.

As you’ll note in About Ruth and the testimonials throughout this site, her clients represent a variety of cultures, ages, interests, and educational backgrounds.  That experience and her own background support effective communication, rapport, and empathy online and in phone conversations with individuals and small groups.

Costs and arrangements are determined by preparation, design, and time involved for consultation and delivery.  Other considerations are numbers, types, and skill levels of participants.  Many of Ruth’s original handbooks, books, and other supporting materials are available at low-cost. As relevant, short guides are provided without charge.

To discuss your goals and decide whether and how to plan a skill development process, contact Ruth at 202.659.1772 or  Alternatively, inform her of your interests and contact information so she can let you know of future offerings of possible value to you.




  • Developing trust with others and in teams
  • Using existing conflict as a positive catalyst for problem solving
  • Stimulating your own and others’ originality, including humor and storytelling
  • Infusing charm, care, and courage in interpersonal skill building
  • Listening as a key to effective communication and relationships
  • Making power work well for you and to benefit others


  • Making the most of your current situation through specific causes for applause
  • Eliciting the attention and recognition you merit
  • Converting stress to positive outcomes
  • Opening windows to your wisdom
  • Unfreezing your professional life: beyond fears of success and failure


  • Profiting from problems(olving)
  • Using conflict to make progress
  • Deepening and expanding interpersonal skills, including using charm and care
  • Using humor and storytelling to build bridges
  • Communicating effectively, including listening skills self-assessment
  • Building trust for collaboration and effectiveness
  • Making the performance evaluation process modern and innovative for all participants


  • Assessing and strengthening management and leadership skills and abilities
  • Improving and enriching life management processes
  • Accessing and using your courage in work and relationships
  • Clarifying and expressing expectations to benefit everyone involved
  • Moving beyond time management to meaning and purpose


  • Getting the satisfying attention you merit
  • Bringing out heroism in yourself and others
  • Opening windows to your wisdom
  • Unfreezing your life: beyond fears of success and failure
  • Becoming yourself – fully
  • Transforming stress to thrive further


  • Creating worthwhile collaborations in work, love, friendship, and/or play
  • Converting silos and specializations into new possibilities
  • Preparing for the future of your work where you are or beyond
  • Expanding career development repertoires of helping professionals* for themselves and their clients (*psychologists, psychotherapists, counselors, social workers, community and nonprofit professionals, ministers, life coaches, for example)

BECOMING A CAREER CONSULTANT (or integrating the process and content into your current expertise)

Explore and experience with Ruth her original career consulting processes focusing on careers as well as career and life management.  For an overview, see and

Regardless of your credentials and experience, I look forward to discussing the related possibilities, processes, and opportunities with you when you call me at 202.659.1772 or email


While a diplomat, Ruth managed, provided, and designed skill development workshops, among other aspects of her work as Chief, Executive Development at the Department of State for three years.  Over several decades, she has led and managed The Schimel Lode in honor of her parent’s values.  With an interdisciplinary approach, Ruth and other Board collaborators promote innovation and collaboration for the public good in the DC area.

  • DC Humanities Council
  • Forty Plus
  • The McKelvey Group
  • Washington Independent Writers
  • Cornell Alumni (DC)
  • The Dana Foundation
  • National Regional Electric Cooperative Association

Let’s explore possibilities and opportunities, discuss your goals, or start planning your group’s event.