We often miss important actions of learning. You are spending your precious time on learning new skills so you want to make sure you make your learning productive and efficient so that you can leverage your learning. This post for everyone to read before you start learning. I’m quite sure you know most of the things written here and please make sure you DO this because most people read and understand but never do it.
Do you have a learning strategy?
Before you start any learning, you need to know what you want to learn.
Learning strategies can be readily prepared by first listing the skills that you want to learn. You need to set your goal on the following to build your learning strategy.
- What do you want to learn?
- Why do you want to learn?
- What do you want to achieve by learning the skill?
- When do you plan to complete your learning?
- How do you know you have accomplished your goal?
- Are there additional learning you need in order to improve?
Creating learning strategy will contribute for you to be clear on the needs, purpose and method.
Competency Skills and Professional Skills
You can classify business skills into Competency Skills and Professional Skills.
Competency Skills are also called soft skills which you need to be a better contributor and influencer in your team or organisation.These are communication, leadership, management, emotional intelligence, negotiation and listening skills.
Professional skills are skills that you need to execute the roles and responsibilities of your organisation.
Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Human Development, Procurement, Warehouse Management, are the typical professional skills.
Reading Books is not enough to learn skills
Let me give you my experience about learning business skills.
In my early 30’s I used to read a lot of books to gain certain skills, especially project management because that was the key knowledge I needed to manage a very complicated project. I thought I had gained the required knowledge from multiple books as while reading, I did understand what was written in the book, but never practised how I will use the methodologies in my project.When my colleague asked me questions regarding risk management, I could only list some of the keywords such as risk identification, analysing risks, evaluate the impact and prioritise risks, but I could not explain how to do risk management in projects. For example, how you will identify risks, what kind of risk analysis you use, how to prioritise risks in IT projects, what you do when the risks become an issue, etc.I only gave him the keywords that I knew about risk management, and could not provide examples and how to apply them to his project.
Input activities are just the start of learning
Not being able to explain about the knowledge you learned occurs because the focus is just on knowledge input and did not do any output activities. Some people may say you did not have experience, but I would say it is the lack of output activities. Most people are making these mistakes and losing the opportunity to leverage your skills to whatever business activities you are doing in your daily work life.
We see in many learning courses or books which tell you to stop right now and think or write on a piece of paper what you have learned or do the practice right now!
How many cases have you taken the time to do these activities?Most of you will say you have hardly done it before.Let’s be honest. We all have an experience which we did not follow the instruction when teachers tell us to take a memo or practice at home.The top tier talents will take the effort to do it. It’s a small thing but makes a big difference. Reading books and taking a course is just the first step of learning. You need to recognise that input does not improve your overall skills. Practice and output are the best way to make use of your learning.
Output activities are key to sucessful learning
It ‘s hard to realise by yourself whether you have enough knowledge and be able to use them. When you went to school in the past, they gave you exams so that you can check your learning progress. You do not need to take exams for the knowledge, what you need to do is to do output activities when you are learning. Output activities are writing, talking, adding examples, and explaning to others. You need to also plan to do these activities as part of your learning. This is the preparation before you are going to use it in your business. Unless you use what you have learned, it doesn’t mean anything.
How do we practice the knowledge that we learn by ourselves?
1. Write What You Learned
While you are learning or after you have read a book, create a memo of the items that you have discovered.Create a notepad for you to practice and write down what you have learned. I recommend you to create one, and then you will be able to see how much you have practised. You may want to go back to contents you have learned while you are doing your writing. Only you will read so it does not have to be a complete sentence, it can be a list of keywords that you want to remember so that you can use when you present to other people. By writing, you will know how few you can first write the things you have learned. Our brain eliminates most of the information you have input at the initial stage of learning. When you write, then it will help you to refrain your knowledge again
2. Talk About What You Learned
You can practice by speaking to yourself about what you have learned. If you are not comfortable talking to yourself, you can talk to your family or friends. You can look at your memo for the first time. As you repeat this process, practice speaking without looking at any memo. Imagine you are explaining the topic to other audience as a professional. Talking helps you to understand the level of understanding based on the image you have in your mind. I recommend you to use your smartphone or IC recorder to record when you do this exercise. This is the same as writing on a notepad so that you know how much you have practised.
3. Add Examples
When you practice again, you will be able to write more or talk longer. Next thing you need to do is add examples. When you explain about a topic, it is important for you to be able to use examples so that other people will understand. Examples give listeners better image of what you are trying to explain. Examples are basically stories or experience. If you provide examples it helps people to imagine the situation based on their expericen. By the time you can use one or two examples, at least you can speak 5 minutes about the topic.
4. Explain To Others
Repeat your practice from 1 to 3, then prepare yourself to teach about the learning to others. By this time, you will need to provide examples and describe in your words using a presentation. Start sharing what you have learned to your family or close friends so that you will know how much you can explain comprehensively. You may want to adjust your presentation while you practice them.
5. Write a Blog or Create a Presentation (Optional)
I recommend to write a blog or create presentation because this helps you to summarise the contents and structure them so that you can share the knowledge with others. Writing a blog means that your contents will be public. You can also get feedback from many people and also to improve your skills more if you share your learnings. By taking this step, I am sure you will be confident to use your knowledge to your business