In the past, it may have been acceptable to attend school, learn a skill and then use said skill for the duration of one’s career. Today’s reality looks much different: The half-life of skills, or the period of time in which a skill is innovated, flourishes and then becomes irrelevant, continues to drop significantly.
In fact, research from Deloitte and the World Economic Forum reports skills that once had a half-life of 30 years now have an average life of just six years. This means that an employee will need to reskill seven times throughout the course of an average working career.
Many business leaders have started adopting the world-renowned research from Stanford University psychology professor Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., on growth mindsets, which is the idea that people who believe abilities can be developed are more likely to flourish and be successful in all aspects of life than people with a fixed mindset who believe abilities are fixed.
According to Gartner analysts (registration required) Graham Waller and Elise Olding, a growth mindset, “stimulates an enterprise’s innovation because of its focus on learning and growing as the way to reach a goal.” To foster innovation within an organization, you must first build your culture with a growth mindset focus and then reskill your employees using this concept of continuous learning — the idea that learning is a lifelong journey rather than something with a start or end date.
Continuous learning is no longer a “nice to have” but rather a “need to have” if you want to be a competitive member of the modern workforce. When businesses don’t recognize the need to adopt a culture where continuous learning is the norm, employees risk falling behind with company performance following suit. Additionally, companies that fail to adopt a culture of continuous learning incur the hard costs of adding new workers with each new wave of technology.
In this era of digital disruption and constant change, uncertainty comes with the territory. Adopting a growth mindset can ease ambiguity by focusing on learning and improving. By challenging your organization to try new technologies and new ways of doing things, the company encourages innovation and, in turn, boosts future revenue and profit streams, company morale, and engagement.
According to Gartner researchers, this year artificial intelligence (AI) is predicted to create more jobs than it replaces, creating 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million jobs. Displacement tends to happen over time and incrementally, which is why reskilling and continuous learning are both important for employees in these positions. Through tactics like just-in-time and microlearning to reskill and upskill, workers’ opportunities for growth in the manufacturing field actually skyrocket.
Just-in-time learning offers need-related training that is available exactly when and how it is needed, while microlearning provides learning in short bursts. For example, when launching a new piece of software at an organization, employees could be invited to watch short videos, each detailing a different feature of the software, over time rather than having to attend one long training.
As with most things, change starts at the top. Leadership must be willing to relinquish some control and be open to experimenting with different solutions than “the norm” in order to grow and learn. Adopting the growth mindset, and serving as a role model, from the top down sets the example that upskilling and reskilling is not only important, but critical to success. This effort goes a long way toward inspiring and influencing employees.
Another example of continuous learning is reverse mentoring, in which a less tenured employee mentors a more seasoned individual. It’s no secret that younger generations are adopting technology much more quickly than their counterparts and can easily “mentor up” to share knowledge about not only their uses but also new trends and platforms.
Organizations cannot always innovate at the speed and scale needed, but the growth mindset can help. By embracing the growth mindset, employees can see challenges as opportunities and become more resilient and adaptable to change. Over time, employees and companies alike will become more comfortable with ambiguity and see experimentation as a valuable way to achieve progress.
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