Learning New Skills in a Changing Business World

5 March 2016 11:04:40 AM NZDT


Organisations today are in constant flux. Industries are consolidating, new business models are emerging, new technologies are being developed, and consumer behaviors are evolving.


For executives, the ever-increasing pace of change can be especially demanding. It forces them to understand and quickly respond to big shifts in the ways companies operate and how work must get done.


It means they must learn how to learn - fast! 


This doesn’t require relaxed ‘arm-chair’ learning or even structured classroom learning. It means overcoming the resistance to doing new things, scanning the horizon for growth opportunities and pushing themselves to acquire radically different capabilities. It requires a willingness to experiment and become a novice again – a discomforting notion for many.


Here are a few simple ‘mental tools’ to help become an effective learner:

Aspiration – the desire to achieve
When we do want to learn something we focus on the positive – what we will gain from learning it. Shifting focus from challenges to benefits is a good way to increase the aspiration or ambition to do something that is initially unappealing.

Most of us respond defensively to criticism about ourselves. However, those who evaluate themselves most accurately start the process inside their own heads. They accept that their perspective of themselves is often biased or flawed, and then strive for greater objectivity.

Kids are relentless in their urge to learn and master new skills. Great learners retain this childhood drive. They learn to ask themselves ‘curious’ questions and then follow those questions up with actions.

Accept the ‘beginner’ state: ‘I am going to be bad at this to start with because I have never done it before.’ Simply acknowledging the novice status makes us feel less foolish and more relaxed. And we will be seen by others as open, interested and ready to learn – and learn quickly.


Source: Harvard Business Review, March 2016

Posted in UBT Updates By

Erica Field