Some professions require a certain amount of training in order to continue to practice, such as the Continuing Legal Education or CLE, for lawyers. Other times a company can set out mandatory periods of education during a weekly review cycle as a condition of employment or as an incentive for raises.
For millions of employees today, continuous learning and independent professional development isn’t formally mandated by HR or other pertinent policy makers within an organization. Sure, it might be an aspired “goal” or “objective” that teams discuss in theory, but it’s seldom put into practice, and that can potentially become problematic. The importance of acquiring new skills—which significantly improve individual process, productivity, and efficacy-quickly takes a back seat to a commonly encountered mountain of competing deadlines and other business priorities.
There will never be a perfect time to start training. Other priorities will always be competing for your attention.
Learning works better when it’s done as part of a routine. Most of us never forget to brush our teeth in the morning, no matter how many other things are happening. New skills need to be the same way. Here are four ways to help make learning easy:
What makes brushing your teeth so seamless? Easy, it’s built into your routine so you seldom ever think about it. It comes as part of a defined set of actions, usually around taking a shower and getting yourself dressed. You never have to think about whether or not there will be time to brush teeth – it’s subconsciously accounted for.
Lawyers sometimes try to cram 20 or 25 hours of mandatory learning into two weeks before a deadline. They tend to complain about how much of a burden learning is, as it eats up nearly half a week of billable time. But those same 25 hours are just 30 minutes a week, or just over 5 minutes a weekday over the course of a year.
Over the past 50 years, we’ve learned quite a bit about how different learning styles vary for individuals. Some people respond better to group instruction, others prefer to read and react to information. For some, seeing the same lesson three times is a useful way to reinforce instruction, others find it boring. The key is to figure out what works best for your individual learning style, and overemphasize that method.
Stick to your guns. Put your goals into action day after day and perhaps, after less time than you think, it won’t seem as though it’s a challenge. After you have established a way to learn, be sure to try different sorts of lessons. Quiz yourself on the content of a lecture. Tell a friend about how you are going to implement an action point from a lecture during the next work day. This will help reinforce new skills and keep your brain challenged as weeks of learning turn into months and years.
Leaders aren’t born. They are made through hard work and practice. Some of this occurs practically on the job, while other important skills can be taught from people who experienced similar situations in the past. Today there are more ways than ever to develop – our ExecSense solution is based on a desktop and mobile application that can be accessed anywhere – therefore, there are no excuses. The time to start making learning a routine is now.