8 key issues to be addressed when learning new skills

Regardless of what your role is in your horticulture business, the rapidly changing business environment requires each of us to be hungry for improvement. This involves learning new skills to improve, grow and evolve in our fields of expertise to ensure that you stay relevant in your business and the industry.

But learning new skills is easier said than done. Oftentimes, we stumble upon blockages or issues that keep us from completing the learning process or from successfully executing our new skills.

The 8 key issues when learning new skills are:

1.  More theory, less practice
2.  Not knowing the ‘why’
3.  Fear of Failure
4.  Fear of Success
5.  Lack of resources for Just-in-Time Learning
6.  Lack of customised learning
7.  Retention of learning
8.  Lack of Leadership support

So, how do we face these issues? What are the options? Here are some tips.

1.  More theory, less practice – Although theory/background is important to learning a new model or approach, applying theory to real-life via trial and error is more beneficial.

2.  Not knowing the ‘why’ – While learning a new skill, most people are too focused on the topics being covered and less on ‘why’ a business person should invest the time in doing it. Spending the time before starting any sort of training experience outlining ‘why’ it is required in the context of your personal or business vision (and strategies) will assist greatly in ensuring it’s completed properly and applied quickly in the business.

3.  Fear of Failure – What if I’m exposed as being not as strong in a skill as I’m perceived to be? What will people think of me? This is very often one of the biggest hurdles to adopting new skills. To overcome this, you need to realize that most of the time these thoughts are just irrational beliefs.

4. Fear of Success – Will I have to travel more for work that affects my life balance? Will I have more responsibility? It sounds strange but very often business leaders/owners hold themselves back due to the extra pressures and lifestyle changes that may come with increased success

5. Lack of resources for Just-in-Time Learning – You have an issue in improving the profitability in your business. You search the internet for a face-to-face course that suits your needs. The next one however is running in 3 months’ time but you need it right now, so what should you do? Many business owners/leaders find themselves in this situation and the only alternative is an online or ‘e-learning’ solution. This involves taking a course of your choice at anytime from anywhere in the world. Often these courses will feature videos from leading experts from around the world to help you get up to speed and apply instantly to your learning need. A great, just-in-time solution.

6. Lack of customised learning –Deviate from courses that are prescriptive by nature i.e. to learn how to be a great leader, you go through 10 set modules and that will be all you need. Instead, the experience of the person or their desired objectives should be taken on board to build a learning experience tailored to the specific needs of the individual.

7. Retention of learning – Those that attend a face-to-face course forget 90% of what they have learnt 24 hrs after the event. So what are your options? E-learning provides the opportunity to continuously go back via an online platform and review the content you have learnt, the videos you have watched to ensure that you continuously re-learn the skills over a period of weeks and months. Retention of learning is dramatically increased.

8. Lack of Leadership support – In a business context, ensuring you have the support of your manager or the leadership team is critical to the application of the new skills you have learnt. Good leadership support will ensure the new skills can be applied quickly, hurdles overcome and time allocated for the development process.

So if you have blockages to learning new skills for yourself or your team think through the 8 key issues above and determine those most applicable. Quickly, you can develop 3-4 strategies to overcome each and dramatically improve your ability to change and adapt.

One great strategy is to look for ways to break the training up into smaller, bite-sized chunks. This allows new skills to be learnt and implemented quickly. Experiment with a more blended learning approach (balance between face-to-face learning and e-learning) and different time-frames (potentially 3-4 hour blocks once a week) to overcome time hurdles and fit into the busy, business environment.

Also, before you learn a new skill ensure you define at the start a clear definition on ‘why’ you’re going through the training. And upon completion, allocate time to de-brief what you’re going to do to start applying the new skills. ‘Doing’ the actual course is only a small part of the learning journey.

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