It’s January. Get Back in Learning Shape!

man wearing headphones scrolls on his phoneIt’s mid-January already. How are you doing on your learning program resolutions for 2023? Are you staying on track, or are you already sliding back into some bad habits?

We know how the beginning of the year can be: you open the year with grand plans to improve, but then life gets in the way and your resolutions fall by the wayside while you’re just trying to stay on top of your daily tasks. So let’s not do that this year.

Grab your water bottle and your Olivia Newton John leg warmers and let’s work together to get — and keep — your learning in shape this year.

Step 1: Work on that agility

Developing agility is a big part of any fitness routine. You don’t need to be an acrobat, but agility is important when it comes to keeping your body aligned and not injuring yourself. It’s the same for agility in the workplace.

In 2023, upskilling and reskilling were a huge focus in the workplace, as enterprises responded to the pandemic and the associated upheaval. According to Gartner, 58% of workplaces reported skill transformation since the pandemic, but many companies still don’t know which skills they need to adopt to succeed in today’s market.

If that sounds like you, it’s time to stop and take stock of your team’s existing skills. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and really be honest about the skills your team needs to remain agile and survive volatility.

Step 2: Flex your sales training skills

Feel that burn! Actually, maybe you don’t want to feel the burn — it’s never good when a customer isn’t happy. Customer experience continues to be a big factor when it comes to being successful in sales; customers expect salespeople to act as trusted advisors to them during their buyer’s journey. They’re looking for a unique, personalized experience and if your sales team falls short, you’re likely to hear about it on social media.

For this reason, your learning workout needs to include a healthy amount of sales training, with special attention to the customer experience. Companies in the United States spent an estimated $70 billion on training in 2022 and it’s now becoming more widely acknowledged (and practiced) that those making an investment in training will have more successful teams in sales and other customer-facing areas.

However, research shows that “55% of the people making their living in sales don’t have the right skills to be successful. This stat is not so much about the lack of sales talent as it is about the inability of most sales organizations to provide sales reps with the specific tools and training they need to be successful.”

If you think your salespeople may fall into that 55%, don’t hang your head in shame and think you’re failing. You are after all in the majority. Instead, make it a priority to act now. See this year as your ripe opportunity to strengthen your sales training program. Start by assessing skills gaps and filling them as quickly as possible.

Step 3: Keep the heart of your company healthy with personal skills

Running is good for you, but running your team (and yourself) ragged is not. There are many skills that contribute to your team’s well-being, and not all of them are the hard skills they need to directly do their jobs. By adding courses in more personal skills, you can keep them balanced and happy at work.

Some examples of such skills include transferable skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and time management. Other personal skills might include language skills for employees that speak a second language and want to brush up on their grammar. Lastly, some of the most popular personal skills have to do with enrichment and balance. Consciousness is one of the most popular skills employees were interested in last year. They also appreciate learning content that helps them with stress relief and confidence.

Step 4: Build the strength of your course library with off-the-shelf content

Your course library is doing a lot of heavy lifting (as it should) but it may not be able to handle the additional weight of sales training, customer experience training, or other new courses. At least, not without help.

There’s no rule saying you have to build all your learning content from scratch. Instead, it may help to add off-the-shelf content to meet additional training needs. After all, while there are definitely some courses that need to be built in-house, some modules can simply be purchased and added to your library.

Step 5: Keep healthy learning habits by adjusting your learning culture

Now that you’ve done all that work, it’s time for the next step: building a culture of learning that will keep your team agile, informed, and balanced. This is the hardest part, because it’s a long-term goal. Good habits aren’t built in a day, and neither is a company’s learning culture. Culture tends to develop organically, and it can be hard to change. You certainly can’t do it on your own.

You can start by enlisting others in this goal, including your team and leadership. When you have a learning champion in the C-suite, it becomes much easier to set learning goals and stick to them. Then your learning will be fit, strong, and agile for the new year… and beyond.