Conscious Competence Learning Model - Use it to Climb the Corporate Ladder!

Sometimes, we don't know that we lack  knowledge or specific skills on the job. It may not become apparent until we are turned down for a coveted promotion or job. As you progress in your career, you will need higher and higher levels of emotional intelligence, negotiation skills and high level leadership skills. This must grow exponentially, if you want your career to grow.  
Previously, I'd written a post about boosting your competence during a rigorous, job-search Are you Unconsciously Incompetent? However, the post below pertains to competence and growth at your current job.

Most of us have at least one or more blind spots in our jobs or our  professional development. These may be areas we have consciously avoided since we are not interested in learning these skills. Or these may be skills we lack, without even knowing that we lack them!

In Psychology we use the  "Conscious Competence Learning Model" to describe how tasks are learned. Using this model, we can evaluate learning along a continuum (from incompetence to competence). This model is a good way to assess your own development in your current job.

The Four Stages - Conscious Competence Learning Model

1.Unconscious Incompetence
"The individual does not understand or know how to do something and doesn't even recognize the deficit. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on their motivation to learn.

This is the most dangerous type of incompetence, since we don't even know we are lacking skills! What comments have you received on performance reviews: good and bad? Think about colleagues who are 2+ rungs above you in the corporate ladder. How did they get there? What is it about them or their skills which is taking them on an upward trajectory? How do you compare?

2.Conscious Incompetence
This is when you realize that you don't know how to do something. You know you have a deficit and need skills, training or support to grow and overcome the deficit.

There are skills which we need to learn and this can be achieved via formal or informal channels. Do you have a mentor within the company and even more importantly, outside of the company? What skills to you know that you must acquire, but do not yet possess? 

3.Conscious Competence
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, they may not be an expert yet.

What is your reputation in your unit, division, company and within the broader industry? If you don't have a reputation outside of your current company, you are probably not very engaged in your field. Think of opportunities to attend industry groups, conferences, make presentations etc.

4.Unconscious Competence
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. They can even multi-task while performing this skill.

Keep in mind that most career promotions are not derailed by a lack of technical skills. Most of us know clearly what technical skills we lack. They are derailed by interpersonal issues, problems in teams, issues with colleagues or with your direct supervisor.  

A skilled Career Coach can conduct a "gap analysis" to determine which skills you need to perform at an optimal level in your job. Coaching can help you move to the next level in your professional education and your career.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this. Post a comment on this thread!
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Author: © 2014 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA,CPRP, NCDA. Virtual Career Coach and Career Transition Specialist.


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