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  • Alan Prowse

The importance of applying newly learned skills


I am interested in your techniques in how you re-enforce newly learned skills to ensure you, or your team, applies those new skills?

Whether it’s corporate training or individual coaching if you don’t apply what is learnt, the training has been a failure, despite if learning has occurred.

I recently had a golf lesson to tweak my golf swing. The professional videoed my swing and put it side by side with a PGA professionals swing. He pointed out what was good and the areas to work on (there were many). This gave me a very visual view of what I was trying to achieve. For what I was working on, the tweaks were relatively small, and I was given a few drills to work on. I worked on these drills for several weeks, each couple of days I went back and videoed my new swing. This was to see if I was making the desired changes. This was easy and quick feedback to re-enforce the lessons learned and ensured I was applying the new skills.

In business if you learn new skills, like presentation skills, video can also be used to ensure you are applying any new skills or ensuring bad habits are not slipping back in. I have done television and radio interviews, panel discussion and formal conference presentation. As well as diligent preparation work and practice, including with a coach, I used to like to get the end video and make sure my communications skills were on point.

For less visual skills like sales techniques, you must practice them in a “safe” environment to keep them “top of mind” until they become part of how you do business. I once rolled out a sales training program, which really focused on our value proposition and complex selling skills. Everyone went through the training including the leaders. Looking back, the leaders that continued to challenge their teams and regularly practiced the new skills, after the training event, clearly saw the most improvement and growth. They didn’t necessarily schedule anything new but used existing meetings to re-enforce the lessons learned. They would assign someone to present a value proposition at their staff meeting and the team would learn, provide feedback, and try to improve it. Or the team would bring recent objections they had received, or were expecting, to the staff meeting and work through them together. This was a safe environment to hone their newly learnt skills.

For personal development I always like to have what I called an accountability colleague. If I had something I wanted to work on, having someone I trusted, giving me “in the moment” or “soon after the moment” feedback was invaluable to help change behaviors and help me grow.

These are just some of my ideas but as I said earlier, I would really like to understand the techniques you use to re-enforce newly learned skills and how you apply those skills going forward.

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