Most people know the story of Luke Skywalker, a simple farm boy who became one of the greatest Jedi the galaxy had ever known. He didn’t wake up a Jedi Knight, he also didn’t learn on the job or wing it. He went off deep in the jungle with no distractions where he could learn and practice his skills in an environment where he could make mistakes without jeopardizing the galaxy, under the careful guidance of Yoda his trainer, coach and mentor all rolled into one.

A challenge some business owners and managers face is when and how to develop staff. When energy, resources and budgets have been allocated it leaves little of anything for development, which isn’t ideal when their are goals to be met. It’s time to shift the way we view professional development and see it as a must do rather than a nice to do.

How?

Firstly, there’s no need to go into the depths of a jungle, what we need to do is create a Learning Zone, a dedicated time to learn, practice skills and make mistakes.

In the workplace we should be working in two zones, that is a Professional Zone and a Learning Zone. The reality is most people allocate a lot of time and resources in the Professional Zone because they believe this is what will make them the most money. The Professional Zone is where we spend a lot of our time doing the job, that is servicing clients or running the business. It should not be a time to learn and master new skills as there are significant risks involved.

Any activities that involve improving the way we work by learning new skills and information should be done in a Learning Zone. Just like Luke Skywalker, it’s important to have the time to learn and practice new skills without distractions and risks under the guidance of a trainer or leader who can coach, mentor and develop skills.

Benefits of implementing a Learning Zone include:

  • Increase in job satisfaction when an employee feels valued
  • Increase in staff morale which has a flow on effect to customers
  • Improvement in business results
  • Ability to service clients better
  • Practice new skills in a risk-free situation that won’t impact clients and results

A Learning Zone needs to be a planned event when there are no impacts to the customer. Schedule in reoccurring Learning Zone sessions every week, fortnight or monthly – whatever you feel you and your team would benefit from. Once this is in place, lock it in and plan the activities. Things will come up and from my experience training and development is the first thing that is cancelled or deferred, never to be scheduled again. Which is why making the mental shift and truly believing learning and development is necessary, is vital in business.

Learning Zone activities can include:

  • Product training
  • Soft skill training
  • One on one’s
  • Coaching sessions
  • Leadership training

The learning zone is a time where you and your team can grow through learning, make mistakes, learn from mistakes, set goals and puts things in place to achieve them. You’ll start seeing the benefits and how it is linked to the success of your business very quickly.

Dream Big. Be Curious. Follow Your Bliss. You’ve got this!

Reena