4 Reasons To Learn Outside Your Comfort Zone!

When continuing your education, the temptation is to build on existing skills and areas of strength, but there are a number of benefits to learning things outside the areas in which you are skilled and trained.

What Science Says About Learning Skills In New Areas

Most people like to operate within their comfort zone, but it’s all too easy to get complacent and begin to make only the minimum effort to get the job done. When you learn a new skill, you can reach a state of what scientists call “optimal anxiety” that actually makes you more productive than when you are operating within your comfort zone.

  1.   Create new neural connections.

Learning a skill outside your comfort zone also creates new neural connections that can help you think and perform better as well as respond better to unexpected happenings and changes. It is important not to push too far out of your comfort zone for too long to avoid getting overwhelmed and actually lowering productivity, but in most cases this will not happen.

This type of learning causes the part of your brain that deals with self-reflective activities like goal-setting, future planning and even daydreaming to be more active. This means that learning skills that make you just a bit uncomfortable can end up changing your life by making you more able to see a successful path forward so you can aim for it.

Other Benefits of Learning Outside Your Comfort Zone

2.   Create less confirmation bias.

Once you get used to being outside your comfort zone, you will find that it has many benefits that science can’t quantify. Those who learn new skills and information tend to have less of a confirmation bias because they have learned to think in new ways and assimilate information that doesn’t fit with what they already think.

3.  Become more creative.

You will be more creative and better at brainstorming when you have learned a wide range of skills including those areas in which you don’t think you are as skilled. The broader your experiences, the more you will be able to think outside the box and offer valuable ideas to your team on a regular basis.

4.  Discover new passions.

Being outside your comfort zone can also be invigorating and exciting, and you can take that increased passion back into your job to improve your performance, take on new responsibilities, or even move up the chain with a promotion.

The more you learn outside your comfort zone, the easier it will be to do so in the future and all of the benefits that come from the act of learning new skills will continue to multiply.

CCSU offers many continuing education courses that can teach you all kinds of skills to push you outside your comfort zone and help you get the benefits that come from this type of continued learning. To join the CCSU mailing list contact Christa Sterling at csterling@ccsu.edu.

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Embracing Generational Differences in Adult Workforce Training

Research has found generational differences in the way people of various ages approach work and work-related training. These differences can make training workers more difficult since people may respond to training differently because of their age and background. Nevertheless, it is possible to find common ground and even use generational differences to benefit individual employees and the company as a whole.

How the Generations Are Different

Baby Boomers, now spanning ages 54 to 72, are retiring by the thousands every day, but they still constitute about a third of the U.S. workforce, an estimated 44 million. Boomers are the last generation that really responds to a top-down hierarchical management structure, although many of this generation has come to prefer a more collaborative model. While Boomers are generally proficient in technology, they aren’t as dependent on it as younger workers.

Generation X, now in their late 30s to early 50s, contribute about 53 million workers to the workforce. Gen X workers are independent and self-reliant with a strong work ethic and a need to make their own decisions about their work.

Millennials, ages about 19 to mid-30s, are continuing to enter the work force and experienced the severe recession of 2008-10 or beyond, which made them more discouraged about working and distrustful of employers. Millennials favor a collaborative approach and value frequent feedback from leadership.

How Generational Differences Can Benefit the Workplace

Generations can learn from each other to improve the workplace and training efforts. Pairing up new employees with a mentor from a different generation can lead to sharing information about learning styles and lead the generations to put themselves in the others’ shoes. Some seemingly different preferences can actually work together quite nicely; most people in all three generations favor a collaborative approach above a top-down model, for instance.

In fact, people in all three generations also value things like feedback and supervisors with integrity, while they don’t like change. This gives workplace leadership many similarities and differences to work with when creating training programs.

Presenting training materials geared toward a variety of learning styles and generational preferences typically makes for better training overall, and being aware of possible generational differences can help trainers adapt to these variations when they train workers. Differences become particularly important when an employee seems to be struggling in their job or with particular training material. Instructors can use their knowledge of generational differences to target difficulties and help struggling employees get back on track.

For instance, a Baby Boomer employee that seems to struggle with structure and direction may need a mentor to give them stronger guidance, while a Millennial may need constructive and positive feedback and more supportive group collaboration in order to succeed.

CCSU offers many courses that can help people succeed in the workplace.  To join our mailing list email csterling@ccsu.edu or call 860-832-2277.

Convincing Your Employer to Invest in Professional Development

Studies have shown that companies that invest in their employees’ professional development boost employee satisfaction, improve recruiting, and build the overall knowledge base of their teams.  Unfortunately, not all employers realize the benefits of professional development without some convincing from those employees.

Know the Facts

The first step to convincing your employer to invest in professional development is to do your research. Sixty-eight percent of employees say that training and development is the most important workplace policy to them, and 40 percent said they would leave a job within a year if they don’t get proper training. These and other statistics may show employers that professional development is vital if they want to keep good employees.

Most employers want employees who are engaged in their jobs and want to grow and develop their skills. As companies grow, they will need employees who can grow along with it, and professional development can be key to finding employees managers can promote from within. Companies with retention and internal promotion goals may find it beneficial to know that professional development is an important part of meeting these goals.

Make a Plan

Responsible professional development enhances employees’ existing job skills without taking them away from important tasks. Having a plan for how and when professional development will take place will help to ease employers’ fears that continuing education will be detrimental to productivity because time spent working will be spent training instead.

When the employer sees your plan to maintain your productivity while at the same time developing skills that will help you do your job better, the benefits of doing so will outweigh the possible negatives in the minds of leadership and they will be more likely to support your efforts.

Negotiate

In reality, professional development is an employee benefit. If your employer doesn’t already provide this benefit, it may be something that you can negotiate for as part of your next salary and benefit review or request for a raise. You may also want to get together with other employees who want professional development as a benefit and present your ideas to management together for added impact.

If despite your best efforts to convince your employer to invest in professional development, you still can’t get them to do so, you may need to take matters into your own hands to get the training you need. Whether employer-paid or not, CCSU offers professional development courses for many different careers including education, human resources, and project management, just to name a few. CCSU’s courses are affordable, and some even lead to certifications that can add concrete and measurable value to your credentials. Join our mailing list to get updates on courses we offer.