How do we learn and develop?

For the last few years I have been working to support others to develop and grow. At the same time of course I also needed to develop and grow. My focus is more on the skills or competencies rather than information or knowledge. Acquiring knowledge or information about a topic or piece of technical information may require elements such as motivation, retention and sense-making but I think this is the easier side of learning and development.

Changing behaviours, adapting our responses to people and events and developing new habits goes far deeper. As I examined how I and other adults learn I saw a complexity that I had not been aware of before. There seemed to me to be four stages in developing a new skill/behaviour.

  1. Identify the gap – the skill or behaviour you want to develop – to a high degree of specificity. Be really clear about what you want the new behaviour to look like, in which situations and with whom.
  2. Plan how you are going to make the change including the sources of support for you in making the change. This may include family, friends, a coach. It may mean changing your environment to enable the new behaviour.
  3. Implement the plan and include daily monitoring. Using implementation goals that specify what you will do in the situations that arise are likely to be more effective than goal objectives. e.g. “In each global teleconference I will speak up and share my thoughts on the issues being discussed and draw others into the discussion through questions” is more actionable than “Increase effectiveness in Global Meetings”
  4. Measure or assess the change in behaviour using feedback from others, tangible metrics and other outcome approaches. Use the feedback to modify the plan and make adjustments. You will need resilience as many first attempts fail but third attempts are increasingly successful.

As you progress with your plan one source of support may be a coach who can work with you on what your goals are and identify any limiting assumptions that may be making it harder for you to realise your goal. Do you have a growth mindset that says I cannot do it yet? Do you have a fixed mindset that says I am limited to what I have and actively avoids being put into situations that may require them to acknowledge areas for improvement? Do you have a purpose, a reason why you need to develop?

For more see Ways We Learn



About Curious and Interested

Former Leader and Manager now writer and coach. Enquiring, Curious, Buys more books than can ever read but still reads a lot. A sucker for gadgets...Ipad, Kindle, Chromecast, apple watch. I aim to improve understanding and cause reflection. Not claiming to be the expert.
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