Depth Over Time

Many organizations these days are interested in supporting their associates with training workshops in core areas that support individual growth as well as corporate values and productivity. A consistent challenge is supplying quality training within strained budgets of time and money. Unfortunately choices are often made to jump for an inexpensive quick hit that supplies information; introduces an idea that participants can then run with (or at least consider) in their daily actions. Internet training prevails along with short format training that functions more as a brown-bag speaker event. The effectiveness of such training tends to suffer the “honeymoon effect.” A few hours, days or weeks following the training, the concepts drop out of mind and are relegated to a newly discovered sector or the brain: the training trend graveyard.

Although such efforts are well meaning and can indeed have some affect, a principle that prevails in regard to learning and change is “Depth Over Time.” Psychologists tell us that to form or change a habit takes 30 to 60 repetitions. Martial Arts specialists add that functional mastery of basic moves can take up to 3000 repetitions. Yet often in our fast-paced, information devouring culture, we misinterpret the power of words and concepts and substitute them for the depth of actual practices. Although thought and information are powerful it is what we practice: our consistent or habitual actions, which produce the results we live with.

The curious thing is that Depth Over Time, does not necessarily mean all learning must take a very long time. Incorporating new action can immediately produce a new result. The added benefit is that over time, if a particular action yields effective results and is worthy of conscious repetition, that repetition leads to habitual use and ultimate mastery of a particular skill.

Brain studies teach us that technical and analytic skills can be effectively taught through concept and association. These skills are learned through the brain’s neocortex. None-the-less, we’ve all experienced how repeated actions, or repeated use of neuronal pathways, also lead to increased proficiency in these areas. It is the area of soft skills training – communication, leadership, interpersonal effectiveness – that is most debilitated when taught only through information and concept.

Soft skills are learned through the limbic brain and become embodied in an individual’s whole system. They are learned by interaction and repetition over time, and usually associated with a deep function such as personal survival, protection or success. Only the same kind of repetition associated with a personally rewarding result is effective in changing them. [1]

The good news is that soft skills training can be chunked down. It’s very possible to isolate specific skill sets and create appropriate practices that will create positive changes in behaviors that target productivity, culture and morale. You can impact interpersonal relations, communication factors, and leadership and influence effectiveness with short-form workshops that offer clear practices. Results are heightened if the organization supports, values, and rewards the practices, and if the practices individually attune to the motivations of participants. Practice based programs that tap limbic brain learning produce impressive results. Studies indicate a 47 to 75% improvement in soft skills [2] essential for productivity and leadership.

  • A manager learns and incorporates practices of self-management and changes his tone of interaction from demanding/punishing to coaching /encouraging, and retention in his department increases.
  • A team learns and incorporates verbal practices for conflict and accountability and moves out of a cycle of bickering and blaming into new levels of productivity.
  • A salesperson learns practices for increasing presence and holding focus when presenting and hits her goal for new clients.

When we remember that 90% of business still takes place person to person[3]; impacting person to person exchange through person to person training, using person to person practices, is vital.

Expressively Speaking workshops offer principle based practices that participants want to use. We deliver the motivation and the practices in targeted formats to fit your company?s budgets of time and money, and to meet both personal and organizational objectives.

[1] Chapter 6 – Primal Leadership, HBS Press, 2002
[2] Chapter 6 – Primal Leadership, HBS Press, 2002
[3] The Future of Knowledge, Verna Allee

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