You return from a conference brimming with new knowledge. But when it comes to applying what you’ve learned, you fall flat.
Or maybe you’ve organized a Lunch ‘n’ Learn series at work. Everyone enjoys the sessions, but you don’t see many co-workers putting their new skills into daily practice.
Why is it easier to learn new things than to apply them? Anxiety and old habits get in the way, says Dr. Harry Martin, an associate professor of and labor relations at Cleveland State University.
The solution: Put more focus on what happens after training, Martin tells The Wall Street Journal.
Write down an action plan for using a new skill on the job. The simple act of writing helps you visualize the outcome and makes it more likely to happen. Use these questions:
- What will you do to implement a concept from today’s session?
- When will you do this?
- What results do you expect and how will they be measured?
- When do you expect to see these results?
- What assistance or support will you need to implement your plan?
Hold a peer meeting with other trainees (two to 12 weeks after learning) to try out new skills and track progress. Why? Even if only one person has applied the new skills, his or her enthusiasm can be contagious.
Build in the option for “expert” help. People are more likely to implement new learning when they have access to an online resource or an expert who can answer any lingering questions. So before you leave a learning session, ask, “How can I reach you with any questions?”