Blog

Learning Agility: A Key to Strong Job Performance

by Eric Baker
on 2016-11-17

Is it just us, or did the 2016 election season seem like it had been going on since at least 1016? We need a national nap to recuperate from that endurance test.

Showing the good judgment befitting a venerable talent-development institution like Caliper, we’re backing away slowly from the contentious Presidential election and letting the pundits and firebrands beat each other up about it. Instead, we turn our focus toward the other newly elected officials soon to commence serving their terms.

As of this writing, there are six new members of the Senate and 50 in the House of Representatives, not to mention a slew of first-time governors, mayors, and all manner of state and local officials taking office. And as with any new job, there will be a learning curve. Those with the right attributes will find themselves in the best position to succeed.

One such attribute is Learning Agility.

Learning agility is the ability to quickly recognize patterns and relationships between variables and then adapt one’s approach. Those strong in this competency can take what they learn in one context and apply it to another to resolve new challenges. Those who are not agile learners might get stuck and have difficulty figuring out why their solutions aren’t working, or they may be blindsided by obstacles they did not see coming but should have.

In your career, you’ve probably encountered co-workers or business associates who were 100-percent positive their way was the only way and who wouldn’t listen to input or consider new information or alternatives. Such people tend to make mediocre employees at best, often unable to adjust in an evolving business climate.

They typically make bad elected officials as well. Assuming other things are relatively equal—most politicians come from a background in law, business, or government and are confident communicators—success on the campaign trail and in office might come down to agile thinking. An agile learner stays up to date on trends and constituents’ attitudes, makes changes following mistakes, and is adept at addressing sudden challenges. These qualities might not guarantee effectiveness in office, but a lack of these qualities could sink a political career.

Now apply that to the business world: Whether you are hiring a manager, a salesperson selling complex solutions, an analyst, or some other role that involves high-impact decision making, don’t you want someone whose mind is wired to seek the best path to a goal and who is capable of doing it quickly? Fortunately, Caliper can measure job applicants’ learning agility, along with a host of other performance competencies critical for success. We can also provide you with a handy report that explains how well your applicant is suited to the role you are looking to fill.

If only the political parties would let us assess and report on the candidates, we could shorten the election season by about 15 months. And that, my fellow Americans, is something we can all agree is a worthy goal.

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