Why Does It Take So Long for Employees to Learn?

Employees can often be a challenge to entrepreneurs as it takes patience to allow them to build skills and learn the new business.

Q: Even though unemployment is low these days and I get a lot of people applying for jobs in my small organization, I find that it seems to take new employees a long time to learn what I need them to know and “get it” so they are more effective with my customers. How can I accelerate this process?

A: What you experience is a challenge for all employers. As the owner and originator of the business, the clarity that you have on what it takes for success is with you right away. New people coming on board will need more time.

There are 4 basic steps to learning that must be understood and honored in order to allow your people to learn and grow as desired and to help you be less frustrated with reality:

  1. UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE : A good example of this is a baby. They are borne and not only can they not walk, they are not even aware of the skill

  1. CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE: Staying with the same example, as they grow, they become aware of others walking, but still cannot perform the task.

  1. CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE: The baby eventually learns to walk after much trial and error and spends considerable time practicing and perfecting the skill. Like any toddler, they eventually become good at it and it becomes a source of pride for them.

  1. UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE: After a period of time, walking becomes second nature to the youngster and eventually it becomes something that they don’t think about at all as they walk like any other person. The skill of walking has become innate to them and they even eventually learn to run.

The above process is fairly universal for all skills that are developed by young and old. Of course, depending on the complexity of the skill being learned, each step will differ in the amount of time taken to move to the next step. The key thing to keep in mind is that there is essentially no way to skip performance steps.

As a business owner, being aware of this process will help you to understand what’s going on and exhibit more patience with your new employee that will benefit the business, you and the employee in the long run.

Questions? Comments?

Would like to hear from you: rbowen@focalpointcoaching.com.

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