Learning Differently

In my various roles in life, I often find myself in a teaching scenario. From coaching my employees or explaining new tools or ways of working to clients or helping my daughters build a tower, the teacher hat is worn a lot these days. I enjoy wearing this hat. though I have come to the realization that I’m not always a patient teacher and I would like to change this. As I have tried to understand why, I discovered two roadblocks for me:
  1. While I take great pride in watching people learn from me, I start to lose patience if my “tried and true” training tactics don’t work
  2. I tend to assume a level playing field at the onset of my training and find myself frustrated when people can’t keep up
In doing a little research on ways to breakthrough these two roadblocks, I stumbled upon the hierarchy of competence, sometimes known as the “stages of learning”, and it has been a major pivot in not only my understanding of why training can be frustrating, but in how much there is for me to learn.
1200px-competence_hierarchy_adapted_from_noel_burch_by_igor_kokcharov-svg-copy.jpg
Find out more here!
The simple realization that there are four types of trainees that could be present at any given teaching opportunity offered me a literal lightbulb moment. It’s perfectly reasonable for someone to be at any given stage of competence and in order for me to empower them to move through the stages efficiently, I must first understand where they are when we start. Yes! If I know where they are, then I can better gauge the appropriate training tactic to catapult them into conscious competence or better yet unconscious competence.
Let’s start with a simple example: I recently worked with a few of my colleagues on the relationship building aspect of project management (*new blog post soon!*). Rather than solely focusing on managing the tasks, budget and deliverables of a given project, it seems intuitive (to me) that if you are spending a significant amount of time with a group of people that you would want to learn more about them. I wasn’t quite sure why this seemed more difficult for some than others. As I read up on the 4 stages of competence, it occurred to me that I am potentially moving people from unconscious to conscious incompetence (lightbulb!). I have made them aware of a previously unrealized, but now necessary, skill set for them to be successful in their jobs. They may not currently possess the ability to engage on a personal level in a professional setting or may not feel confident in their ability to do it well. This discomfort can paralyze a person if it is not handled appropriately. By knowing this, I am now able to sympathize and adjust my attitude towards the learning curve required to move into conscious incompetence, which is where I assumed everyone was starting.
I am excited about this newfound knowledge. While there are some skill sets I wish to move to the top of the pyramid and achieve unconscious competence, in the area of training I want to remain conscious of the competence I have to offer others.

Published by Empower-Lead

Hello! My name is Karen. I am a mother, a wife, and a Vice President at a strategic consultancy in the non-profit technology space. I desire to seek change in both my personal and professional worlds through empowering positive leadership. I will share my experiences here and look forward to hearing how you empower positive leadership in your life! Personal: My husband, Kyle, and I live in Denver, CO with our two wonderful little girls and black Labrador, Riley. We spend as much time as possible outdoors either hiking, camping, off-roading or enjoying the city of Denver and mountain towns of Colorado. We moved here in 2016 after spending a decade at the beach on the east coast. If we are not in Colorado, we are jet-setting around the U.S. visiting friends and family. Pre-kids, that jet-setting included South America and Europe which we hope to begin again soon! Professional: I have spent the last decade in the non-profit space offering technical leadership guidance and analytical expertise to assist nonprofit organizations achieve maximum impact and efficiency from their technology solutions. What does this mean? I work with senior leadership teams to develop and execute strategic plans that align technology investments and IT services with the needs of national, international and regional offices. What does it really mean? I use both soft skills and analytical skills to assess needs and issues, define business processes, and lead teams in delivering value-driven technology solutions that strengthen the effectiveness of campaigns and operations. Ok, one final try: I work with a bunch of really smart people to help other smart people be better at their jobs by using technology more efficiently and effectively. I do all this for non-profits.

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