Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Trevor E.S. Smith | What type of experience is yours?

Published:Sunday | December 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMTrevor Smith

Some people have many years of the same experience, while others use time to benefit from different experiences.

Some are deemed to be a spent force despite their years in the workforce.

Then there are those that do things the same old way - stubbornly refusing to apply the best practices of today.


Transition challenges


Change is one of the few constants in life. How we navigate change is a major factor in determining our level of success. Yet, charting the way forward is really challenging.

One sticking point is to find a balance between making the most of experience and developing new skills. That problem is faced by individuals and organisations.

Here are some things to consider:

- Your achievements to date have been based on what constitutes your experience. Do you continue to milk it or seek new herds?

- Alternatively, could time and resources invested in spreading out be better deployed in digging deeper where you are?

- At what point do you realise that the foundation of your experience is obsolete and it is now time to delete?

These questions appear easy to answer from the outside, but can be difficult.

Consider a situation in which a steady income is being generated doing things in your special way for a strong client base.

New techniques for achieving similar results start to emerge. Taking a decision to adopt those techniques might mean that you no longer have the edge in terms of experience over your would-be competitors. Critically, it might also mean having to re-educate your clients and risk losing them.

Some of this decision-making is influenced by the behavioural preferences of the decision-makers. Understanding behavioural styles provides insights into how an individual or organisation is likely to make and execute decisions related to change. Some are reactive, others proactive. Some need to be prodded, others do the prodding.




One impact of globalisations and the quest for competitiveness is that there is increased commitment to continuous learning. Individuals and organisations that consistently invest in developing their skills give themselves a better chance of competing.

Despite the clear evidence in support of the need to upgrade one's skills, large numbers of senior executives choose to rely on past experience. They read little outside of work material, and they fail to make use of learning and certification opportunities.

Similarly, some tertiary-level graduates seem to adopt the view that they have arrived, and that there is no need to continuously upgrade their skills. They will ultimately be led by those who actively seek out opportunities to learn.




The following tips will help individuals and organisations to more effectively manage the experience issue.

Stop treating training budgets as the last to get a proper allocation, and the first to get cut. Every dollar spent effectively in development is an investment in gaining a competitive edge.

Amazingly, some organisations make learning resources available to their staff, only to find that they are underutilised. Employees skip workshops that are designed to make them more productive, as if it is only the organisation that benefits from the upgrading of their skills.

With the flood of free and low-cost learning materials that are available, funding should not be an excuse for failing to upgrade one's skills. HR and training managers can supplement their budgets by creatively identifying suitable material and making it available to their colleagues. They should also be more willing to sign up for or recommend free webinars and podcasts and download free e-books.

Creating a learning organisation is more a matter of philosophy, commitment and creativity than a function of funding.


Call to action


Leadership is important in navigating change and preparing for it. Learning is undervalued when leaders fail to participate in personal development and share new information. Still worse is the frequency with which they frustrate the training schedule by pulling out participants from planned sessions for transactional assignments.

- Trevor E.S. Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify coach mentors and develop high performing teams. Hire Smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling for the January cohort of the ICF/SHRM-Accredited Certified Behavioural Coach programme.