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The Daily Dot is a daily post aimed to give the reader an edge in business and professional development. It's purpose is to provide interesting, thought provoking and informative content through ideas, up-to-date information and advice focusing on achieving ‘outstanding results’ within a professional context.

Tuesday 30 Jun 20

The TakeawayAwareness or Competence?

The Developmental Difference Between Awareness And Competence

When we are discussing learning needs or training projects and programmes with learners or clients, it is quite easy to talk about the topics, and what people need to know, understand or be able to do. Much time and attention is devoted to the content and what goes into the sessions as well as how the training will be delivered, what kinds of learning and activities will be employed to embed the learning.

What is sometimes more important to understand from the off, is what level of ability or understanding the participants or learners need.

That is to say, sometimes this is overlooked in the excitement of discussing all of the ways the learning could be done and what specifically could be covered.

Here is a very rough guide to the difference between awareness and competence in the training world...

Let’s take Project Management Skills as a worked example, to give you a rough guide to how much training one might require to reach different levels of competence, and crucially, what must accompany the training for people to reach advanced levels.

  • Awareness - 1 day of training 
    This time could be used to define projects and the different stages of the project life cycle, perhaps an overview of a couple of popular methodologies and awareness of the skills that will be required to manage projects well

  • Ability - 2-3 days of training
    This time could be spent to cover projects in detail, looking in detail at a particular methodology, beginning to train in the skills required to manage the processes and stakeholders within the project successfully, you could look at an in-depth simulation or case-study to test applying those model, tools and skills and would begin to be able to manage smaller projects in the real world

  • Competence - 4-6 days of training
    This would allow the learner to gain a project management qualification, including all of the above aspects of the learning. They would then have a true understanding of both the methodology and have the knowledge required to use the right skills in the right processes in the project and should be quite confident in deploying them. This needs to be coupled with the experience of actually managing projects and learning those real-life lessons and making your own mistakes along the way

Whilst this is a very rough guide, it is here to highlight the fact that a day of training does not solve a skills gap, it addresses an awareness gap, and while it would be natural to be a little sceptical of advice on doing more training coming from a provider of training, we would also be keen to point out that, we are also stating that throwing training at an issue of experience is also not the answer to making someone an immediate expert, as this is not really possible. 

Training is an essential part of competence and expertise, but the experience component is also incredibly important and should not be ignored.


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