We are extremely fortunate the University of Colorado offers robust professional development opportunities on a wide range of topics. The question is how well does the knowledge and skill you obtain transfer to the workplace? Do you use it? Does it have the desired impact?

For instance, you just spent 16 hours you didn’t have attending a Crucial Conversations workshop. You leave the training excited and with a renewed sense of confidence. You are ready to tackle that next difficult conversation. Then several weeks, or maybe months, pass and you have yet to try out your newfound skills. Finally, the moment arrives, and…you freeze. You cannot remember how to begin. You revert to old habits handling it the same way you always have with a less than desirable outcome. You feel deflated. How do we avoid this?

The reality is when we use what we learn it sticks. Better yet, teach it to someone else! When we don’t…well, you know how that story ends – use it or lose it. 

Here are four ideas to help you and your colleagues integrate new skills after that next training:

  • Refresh 

Coordinate opportunities for you and your colleagues to voluntarily gather and practice what you learned. Perhaps the sessions are broken down by skill so everyone has an opportunity to really focus on one thing at a time using their own scenarios and fact patterns.

  • Build it in

When intact teams attend training together, identify 1-2 skills and build implementation into existing processes such as 1:1s and team meetings. Revisit and check-in regularly. 

  • Teach-Back

The teach-back method is a terrific way to reinforce what was learned and confirm understanding. If an individual team member attends a training program, have them teach it back to the rest of the team. The group can then identify the skills and behaviors they want to implement, hold each other accountable and work toward common goals 

  • Recognize

When you observe colleagues and others applying new skills, offer positive reinforcement and if possible, share how it is positively impacting the bottom line, relationships, the department, the customer experience, etc. In other words, provide an environment that fosters learning (especially when we make mistakes), creating cohesive work relationships and being sure to celebrate small successes. 

Go to the source! And remember, you are not limited to your own campus. Explore!

Boulder Campus:

Denver and Anschutz Medical Campuses:

By: Elizabeth Hill, Associate Director, University of Colorado Boulder Ombuds Office