According to research from Area9 Learning, between 20 and 40 percent of corporate employees are “unconsciously incompetent” in areas that are critical to being successful in their jobs. This means that employees do not know as much as they think they do, and that is a serious problem. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Ulrik Juul Christensen discusses the phenomenon and how gaps in training programs that allow this might be rectified.
Knowledge Blind Spots
The data finds that unconscious incompetence is prevalent across all levels of the organization, particularly with experienced employees. And since experienced employees are typically used as go-to sources of information, that means they could be inadvertently responsible for spreading bad information around the organization. That ain’t good.
When looking to our training programs as a means of closing competency gaps, Christensen finds it is critical to make our learning models more adaptive:
Corporate training programs need to be redesigned to better engage learners and empower them to admit what they don’t know. Too many online training modules miss the mark here because they rely on static content, which most people try to click through as quickly as possible, especially if they think they already know it. These programs also make assumptions about what students understand and where they need reinforcement, offering a “one-size-fits-all” approach that’s highly ineffective since every learner is different, with variations in knowledge, experiences, background and the ability to take in new information, even from moment to moment.
Another insightful tip is to make employees rate the confidence of their answers—to account for lucky guesses. When people are forced to acknowledge whether they are really sure about their knowledge, it makes them more self-conscious (in a good way). They become better able to see their own gaps in understanding.
For additional thoughts and examples, you can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/09/how-to-teach-employees-skills-they-dont-know-they-lack