Embedding Learning When Change and Adaptation Is More Important Than Ever!

What if I suggested that without a crucial ingredient,  all the investment your company places in learning and development for your employees in 2020 could be a waste of time and money?



A recent conversation with a friend got me thinking about this problem.

During a zoom lunch date (one of the things I am doing to give myself some work-life balance while working from home),

I asked her what she had going on at work that afternoon.

Her face shifted to irritation and, with an exaggerated eye-roll, she said:

“Ugh, we have another training workshop… this time on motivation during Covid-19.  I could not be bothered.”

As a performance psychologist I am fascinated by motivation and so this statement made me laugh. I was immediately reminded that we should never assume people are interested in the same things as us!

Further questioning clarified that my friend had been subjected to lecture-style training sessions with little interaction and no opportunity to apply what she was being taught. These sessions felt like a waste of time to her, and in fact they were, because afterwards she never felt able to implement the knowledge.

The Power of Habits

We now know that at least 40% of our daily actions are habits. Habits are a combination of automatic
thoughts, sub-conscious reactions and established routines. The longer we have been following these
routines, the harder they are to change. Even when we have the desire and the best intentions to
change, the sheer strength of our established neural pathways pull us back to our old ways of doing
things. When we don’t understand the processes behind this, we are left feeling powerless to make our
desired changes a reality. This feeling of powerlessness feeds a fixed mindset, which whispers to us
there is no point in trying hard to change as it won’t make any difference.

But why is learning such a struggle?

Implementing new learning is, at its essence, a struggle against our established habits. It requires a
strong clarity of what you are looking to change and the sheer discipline of repeatedly choosing a new
way of acting or thinking until it becomes your new habit or way of being. Contrary to previous research
which suggested it takes 21 days to form a new habit, we know now that this process can take anything from 3 weeks to
to six months, depending on our focus, determination and how our individual brain works.

So, the problem is this: learning and development training can be waste of time and money if we do not
give people the tools to understand their own learning, take control of their behaviour and implement
what they have learned.

Figuring out how to do exactly that is a priority at Adaptas. As a team, we teach learning and habit
change as a core element in all our training, from presentation skills to higher business performance. We
have seen the benefits of this approach, with clients often reporting back to us that through
understanding their own learning and habit change challenges they were able to take control of their
choices and behaviours and make long-term, impactful changes in work and in life.

The crucial ingredient, as we see it, is habit change.


See more about learning and habit change in  Celine’s book ‘Our Learning Brain’.

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