How can companies help staff, or customers, to identify their skill level?
Setting targets is an important function in any business and we were inspired by a headline in a recent newsletter from our friends at Henry’s Avalanche Talks where they discussed training and refresher training for off-piste skiers. Their topic: ‘The key to staying safe is to know what you don't know’. Given the recent accident involving Michael Schumacher and the avalanche of words in the press about the potential dangers in the mountains that have followed, a skiing based analogy felt appropriate and so we propose a variant on this theme as: ‘The key to improvement is to know what you don’t know’
Danger is all around, but by understanding where our knowledge gaps lie, we can work towards minimising the chance of accidentally getting into a situation that we’d rather avoid. There are many types of danger, it doesn’t have to dangerous in the physical sense of the word, it could be financial, legal, reputational etc...
But how do you know what you don’t know, if you don’t know it?!
There are a number of matrices and forms available that can help you decide where you come on the scale of novice to expert, but before you head off and assess yourself based on some unknown criteria, there is an expression that has been used since the 18th century which is worth bearing in mind: ‘a little learning is a dangerous thing’. Are you familiar with the feeling of growing confidence as your skill level increases? Of course you are! You may also be familiar with the feeling that you’re suddenly out of your depth doing something that you thought you were well prepared for.
Understanding if you have a little knowledge, a lot of knowledge, no knowledge at all, or if you’re an expert, is an important distinction to make. Perhaps you know your level because of your ability at a task relative to your peers, or, you may be assessed in your competency by someone following training. Either way, being honest with yourself about your level is important in order to find the next level of improvement. This becomes vital if improvement could be life saving, but it is still important if advancement could lead to something like a job promotion.
Scientific surveys have shown that 80%+ of drivers consider themselves above average. This statistical impossibility relates to a bias called illusory superiority where people have a tendency to overestimate their abilities relative to others. The truth is, assessing competency and offering needs driven training content could prove critical to the safety of someone you know or the profitability of your company.
Using available resources and setting targets
Most companies will acknowledge that they have lots of information available, but that it is of variable quality and contains both gaps and overlaps, irrespective of the topic under consideration. Pulling together that content and assessing people on their knowledge and their understanding is an ideal use-case for an e-learning platform such as the Learning Line.
One of the benefits of using the Tin Can API is the ability to generate statements that are contextual and relevant. For example, rather than simply recording that '[person] read [topic]', the statement could become ‘[person] achieved target in health and safety’. Setting targets for specific groups of people is something that we will visit in a future post.
Technology has a great role to play in this arena and whether the topic is inducting new employees, re-training staff on a topic like equality at work, or training someone to help find skiers caught up in an avalanche whilst off-piste skiing, we hope you’ll embrace the opportunities to learn what you can, where you can and when you can.