Need new skills? Need to learn new techniques?

Is the information you need readily available, but you are unable to access it due to unforeseen barriers?


Earlier this week, after purchasing coffee and a bottle of motor oil for my car, I confidently opened the hood, pulled on my gloves, located the oil cap, and attempted to remove the oil cap. It would not budge. Confident that I had the skills to perform this seemingly easy task, I made repeated attempts to remove the oil cap under the hood of my car. I soon discovered that the professional who completed my last oil change for my trusty jeep – had installed the oil cap so tight that I could not turn the cap.

Undaunted, I am in a busy gas station full of people ordering morning coffee and filling their cars with gasoline. However, it took several requests and at least ten minutes to gain assistance from someone to loosen the cap. My barrier to the seemingly easy task was the unexpected occurrence that could not be removed. The kind person who assisted me confirmed that it would have been next to impossible to accomplish on my own.

Did I learn anything?

Yes, I did.

I learned that despite my knowledge of what to do, even with the tools to accomplish the task, I needed an additional resource to accomplish the desired task.


Who is your resource?

How will you acquire the knowledge, support, mentorship or answers that you need to complete your assigned workplace responsibilities? Are you expected to have the existing skills – or to quickly acquire the skills?

  • If you don’t have the skills, are you comfortable asking for help?
  • Are resources available to help you acquire the knowledge you need?
  • Will you have the opportunity to practice the skills in a “safe” environment of the training classroom before implementation?

In a recent article “Redefining Workplace Learning For The 21st Century” written by Jenny Dearborn, Vice President, Chief Learning Officer, SuccessFactors*, it mentions that workplace training is evolving. Employees are expected to be responsible for acquiring the necessary skills which require continual skills development, whether formal or informal, to complete the task. Currently, training offerings are integrating standard ILT with new learning methodologies.

With lifelong and flexible learning courses, the opportunity to assist others when asked, and the number of available resources to seek have increased.

Jack Zanger, author of “We Wait Too Long to Train Our Leaders”  references a study whose findings indicated that the average supervisor became a supervisor around age 30, remained in the position approximately 9 years, and later had leadership training in their early 40’s. These supervisors were being “thrown into the pool” without the life vest (leadership training) needed to gain and practice the skills needed to set them up for success on the job.

In fact, in today’s ever-changing environment, this scenario occurs at several levels within an organization. The employee or supervisor affected has several options.

  • Option #1 – “wait” until the training is made available.
  • Option #2 – opt to “learn by doing” on a daily basis.

Alternately, a third option is to proactively seek the necessary skills and/or assistance of resources needed on a continuous basis.

Ultimately, the focus for obtaining the help needed, to complete the task at hand, rests squarely with the one needing the skill or knowledge.