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.