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How to Combat the “I Don’t Have Time for Learning” Syndrome

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

According to a recent LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, nine in 10 executives agree that there is a skills gap issue in the U.S. workforce. What’s more, 90 percent believe that L&D programs can help close that gap. However, a key challenge for L&D, according to LinkedIn, is getting employees to make time for learning.

How do we fix this dilemma? Get employees to learn while they perform their regular work. Sound too easy? Well, it almost is.

We already know that learning on the job—what some call “workflow learning”—is one of the most effective ways to make learning stick. What most practitioners struggle with, though, is how to add more structure to on-the-job learning. Enter skill practices.


Here’s how it works: A skill practice is essentially a step-by-step guide for helping someone do a specific task that they need to do when performing their job, while they perform that task. Consequently, there is no time taken away from the job for learning. Rather, knowledge simply transfers to the worker. So, if someone needs to be able to do something in their job, that “something” must be part of their competency model. In this way, skill practices are competency-based learning.

The LinkedIn report also notes that business impact is the #1 measure desired by CEOs, but only 8 percent currently see the business impact of L&D. You can see that skill practices have the unique opportunity to connect the dots for executives. If the skill level of a worker in a specific competency is at one proficiency level, and they use a skill practice to change their behavior and improve their performance on the job, then their proficiency level goes up. Think about this in terms of being able to build a business case, influence with a presentation, or derive insight from trends. That’s how you get to the business impact.

Skill practices may seem to be a fairy-tale solution to a burning L&D issue, but the reality is that skill practices are a straightforward solution to a complex challenge. What’s more, they can be built inexpensively, in a very short time frame. If you want to learn how to do it, join me February 22, 2018, for the ATD webcast: Create Informal, Competency-Based Learning in Only 1 Day!

About the Author

Cheryl Lasse is SkillDirector’s managing partner. Her goal is helping people and companies achieve their potential. Cheryl has extensive experience with competency model development and implementation, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion with others. Check out the LinkedIn group Competency Models For Professional Development.

She believes people are intrinsically motivated to excel, if they are given access to a competency model for their role, the opportunity to assess themselves against that model, and personalized learning to help them close gaps and meet aspirational goals. This philosophy has been embodied in the Self-Directed Learning Engine, the engine behind the ATD Skill Tracker.

Cheryl has a strong background in consulting, marketing, and sales, mostly in technology companies, where training has played a chief role throughout her career. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University in computer science and HR, and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

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Totally agree. Been following Cheryl's advice for two years and getting ready for our full scale launch of the Self-Directed Learning Engine. Great work, Cheryl!
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