Learning a new skill takes time. The complexity of the skill and many other factors impact the time it takes for the skill to be learned.
Way back in 1967, Fitts and Posner suggested that the learning process is sequential and that we move through specific phases as we learn. If a skill is to be mastered, the three phases of learning will be visited every time.
The three stages to learning a new skill are:
- Cognitive (Introductory) phase - Identifying and developing the individual parts of the skill (involves forming a mental picture of how mastering the skill will look and feel like.)
- Associative (Practice) phase - Linking the individual parts into a smooth action - involves practicing the skill and using feedback to improve and perfect.
- Autonomous (Mastery) phase - Developing the learned skill so that it becomes automatic (reaching this level of skill involves completing the new skill with little or no conscious thought or attention. Not everyone will reach this stage)
The learning of new skills requires the individual movements to be assembled, piece by piece. Feedback is used to shape and polish the new skill into a smooth action.
I first discovered the stages of learning in year 1 at Physio School. Their importance is as relevant to me today as a CEO as they were to me then as an aspiring physiotherapist.
As a CEO, I am an educator. Delegating and teaching new skills to the guys in my team is a critical part to our success. Leaders create more leaders.