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By PulseLearning | Dec 2017

Repetitive Skill Practice: The Missing Link In Corporate Training

How successful is your corporate training? Are your employees remembering and applying what was learned with enhanced performance? If not, repetitive skill practice could be your missing link. Let me share a personal anecdote to begin…

Several years back, I decided to learn to play the guitar. My musical journey lasted a few months before coming to a grinding halt as quickly as it had started.

I felt defeated. No one told me about the bleeding fingers and callouses… or, that as well as learning chords, there were strumming rhythms and riffs to master. But my biggest vendetta was reserved for those that failed to tell me it would be this hard.

On reflection (and in attempt to accept that I’d never be the next Joan Jett), I realized I had overlooked that repetitive practice leads to personal mastery – 10,000 hours of it, according to the theory Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his book, ‘Outliers.’ My music misdemeanor had taught me a very important lesson.

So, what has this got to do with corporate training? A lot actually!

Let’s say you have been promoted to a leadership role. Taking your professional development seriously, your organization sends you to a prestigious three-day leadership course. Back in the office with your training certificate, you don’t feel like a leader; but you think you should. After all, the expensive course told you everything you need to know to lead like a legend.

My guitar playing experience and this corporate training scenario show us that corners just cannot be cut when it comes to mastering new skills. Although you can’t upskill your employees overnight, you can ensure the learning process is efficient by delivering training in a way that works with our neurology by incorporating repetitive skill practice opportunities.

Here, I share some tips for delivering your corporate training with a focus on repetitive skill practice to get your employees started on their journey toward personal mastery.

 

1. Provide constant, bite-sized learning experiences.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply preload training up front and expect great results. By nature, we can be forgetful, so we need to be reminded, often. Consider splitting training into small microlearning assets for periodic release. This way, you can repeat key learning messages in new and interesting ways to ensure the messages are retained.

 

2. Encourage continuous skill practice.

Another benefit of rolling out training incrementally is that you provide the perfect opportunity for employees to apply and practice skills in between. Encourage employees to constantly practice learned skills on the job and analyze individual successes and areas requiring improvement. Self-reflection on actual performance is one of the critical steps to improvement because it stops an employee repeating habits that aren’t conducive to success.

 

3. Break it down to key skills.

Asking employees to practice being a great leader is an expansive task. Instead, break it down into the key skills of leadership and have employees deliberately practice these. You could focus microlearning modules on leadership aspects such as active listening, coaching others, or giving constructive feedback and then set practical practice activities to be completed regularly between training releases.

 

4. Work with the natural concentration span.

So you’ve broken up your training and encouraged your employees to practice, but make sure you don’t fall into the ‘overload and overwhelm’ trap. Providing too much information at once can have the reverse effect of what you are trying to achieve and lead to precious information being forgotten. Instead, work with the natural attention span and deliver training in short 5–10 minute bursts.

 

5. Allow employees to teach or coach others.

Another way to incorporate repetitive skill practice into your employees’ workdays is to have them teach or coach a colleague. This provides the perfect opportunity for employees to regularly repeat skills by demonstrating tasks and answering questions. Employees don’t need to be seasoned experts to teach others. It’s often more effective for someone who isn’t far from new themselves to explain the steps in a way that’s easily understood.

 

On a parting note, remember that developing permanent habits requires months not days, so set your expectations appropriately.

Oh… and by the way, my guitar ended up at a local secondhand goods market, where it may have repeated its history. But, you never know, it could have found a new owner who knows that repetitive skill practice makes perfect!

Is your training strategy aligned with how people learn most effectively? PulseLearning has the expertise to help you deliver your corporate training with efficiency as backed by science and adult learning theory. PulseLearning is an award-winning global learning provider experienced in learning consultancy and developing engaging and innovative eLearning and blended training solutions.


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