A Key to Success

Why do some people seem to do things quickly and easily while others struggle or simply give up? How we do things, perform on the job for example, often depends on how we were trained. Now, most of us are trainers as well as trainees. You’re a trainer when you show someone how to run a piece of equipment, how to behave, or how to tie a bow.

But what makes training take? What’s to say that the people we train will be able to do what we teach them? Well, many studies have shown that four things are needed for effective training: First, the skill needs to be taught. Then, there must be an opportunity to practice, a supportive environment that rewards performance, and finally, self-efficacy.

Now, self-efficacy is a concept that The Pacific Institute has included in its programs for a very long time. It simply means our own judgment about whether we can do specific things, as well as our belief about whether we can influence our environment. While our level of self-efficacy can be general, most often it is task specific. For example, we can be efficacious in math, but not so much in cooking or decorating. And it is different with every individual.

Dr. Albert Bandura, National Medal of Science award winner, out of Stanford University, is an internationally recognized expert on self-efficacy and has been a tremendous resource for the Institute. Dr. Bandura tells us that when our self-efficacy is low, we avoid difficult tasks, give up quickly, and are slow to recover confidence after failure or setbacks. Self-efficacy is built when we practice enough to develop competence or mastery and when we interpret that success as due to our own efforts rather than luck or circumstances. A secondary benefit is increased self-confidence.

So when you train others – your children, for example – it will be helpful to break tasks down into manageable chunks, arrange for practice that leads to success, and give feedback that emphasizes progress rather than shortfall. You and your children – or you and your employees and team members – will be building self-efficacy.