Learning Is Earning: 3 Strategies for Learning Faster

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The learning imperative has never been greater.

In fact, The World Economic Forum recently declared a “reskilling emergency” as the world faces more than one billion jobs transformed by technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and by the workforce shifts caused by Covid-19. In fact, in the next two years – by 2022 – 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change.

Thus, the ability to learn quickly is an undeniable competitive advantage – for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Researchers recently found only 20% of employees surveyed across various industries are confident it’s easier to find a new role within their organization than doing so externally. Which begs the question, how might we take a more intentional approach to support the learning and development of our people at work? And what effect would that have on our ability to achieve profit and growth goals?

Consider these three M’s for improving your organization’s ability to learn and earn: Mindset, Marketplace, and Mastery.


Adopt a “once in a career” mindset

A “once in a career” mindset is a way of reframing disruptive and/or derailing business challenges as opportunities to grow our capabilities quickly. Consider the sudden shift to remote work that many of us experienced due to COVID-19, or the rapid pivot away from certain priorities in favor of others given economic uncertainty. While these shifts were unexpected and unwanted, they undoubtedly hastened our personal and organizational learning. If we can mine crises for the learning and development gold, we become rich in perspective, wisdom and confidence. This will make us better equipped to navigate the next crisis.

Mindset actions you can take:

  1. Ask your team what “once in a career” learnings they have experienced this year and how they are better for them.
  2. Reframe organizational adversity in terms of notable innovations and discoveries that were achieved.
  3. Train managers to model a learning mindset in one-on-ones. For example, if an employee expresses frustration or negativity about something in the past, the manager might ask, “How will you do things differently next time?” or “What did you learn from that challenge that can help the team?”


Create an internal opportunity marketplace

Employees should not have to wait to be tapped for formal learning and development experiences. Those who are hungry for a challenge and ready to learn should have easy access to stretch assignments and cross-functional projects. Our partners at Structural have democratized access to development opportunities and mentoring relationships by creating an Opportunity Marketplace within their app. It allows employees at every level to share and express interest in opportunities for growth and involvement.

Marketplace actions you can take:

  1. Dedicate a Teams Channel to posting internal projects and problems so people can see what’s out there.
  2. Implement a solution like Structural to easily and transparently connect people with opportunities.
  3. Host a Learning Fair (virtual or in-person) where leaders in the company host tables (or breakout rooms via ZOOM) advertising projects they need to staff or expertise they need on teams. Employees can then “shop around” for opportunities.


Master the art and science of understanding people’s strengths relative to the work

When an individual’s strengths and inherent motivations match up with the work they are tasked to do, mastery is possible. Often, however, people and teams are unaware of their individual and collective superpowers, causing conflict and misalignment. The clearer we can be about the work (What is it? Why is it important?  How must it be done? How will progress and quality be evaluated?) and the more we can illuminate people’s strengths and capabilities relative to said work, the easier it is to unleash individual and team potential.

Mastery actions you can take:

  1. Implement scientifically validated analytics like The Predictive Index® that include behavioral, job and team assessments for visualizing people’s strengths relative to the work.
  2. Train everyone (not just managers) on how to share observations and feedback in a constructive way. I also recommended reading books like Radical Candor by Kim Scott or Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny as a team.
  3. Focus performance improvement coaching on key behaviors. Often managers are too vague, “Sam, you need to run more efficient meetings.” Or, “Keisha, be more strategic.” What would be more helpful to Sam’s learning would be to experience a well-run meeting and to talk with his manager about a specific behavior he plans to change going forward. Then, the manager could provide feedback on how well Sam is implementing that behavior. And Keisha could ask herself a “line of sight” question like, “How does this initiative support broader team and organizational goals?” before jumping into implementation.

As we head into the 4th quarter of 2020, I hope Mindset, Marketplace and Mastery will help you learn faster than your competitors to survive and thrive no matter what 2021 brings. Reach out if you would like to learn more about our individual and team assessments and training or meet our friends at Structural.



For more on the importance of people data, check out this article on Leading Blindfolded here.

For more from Heather Haas, read her previous article “Creating a Dream Team.”