We’ve discussed the importance of hard skills and how they create a strong foundation for high performance, as well as highlighted the value of soft skills for building strong connections and engagement within the workplace.

Now let’s dive into the harmonious marriage of the two, which creates an even more powerful skill that is invaluable to the modern-day employee: situational fluency.

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Leveraging Psychology and Brain Science to Optimize Retention and Behavior Change

Perception and Comprehension

Situational fluency is the perception of environmental elements and events, the comprehension of their meaning, and the assessment of their impact on the future. In simpler terms, it’s the ability to “read a room.” This is heightened to possessing situational fluency when appropriate actions are taken and adapted during the course of the event as more inputs become identified and are interpreted in real time.

In a recent blog authored by learning scientist Todd Maddox Ph.D. of Amalgam Insights, situational awareness combines both hard and soft skills because there’s usually some problem solving involved, so the fusion of the two can provide an ideal solution to a given problem. Let’s look at an example of how that can play out. If your sales team is in a competitive bid to close a big deal and is unsuccessful, the immediate reaction may naturally be disappointment. Even so, a situationally aware salesperson must maintain utmost professionalism in talking to the prospect calmly, probing for loss reasons or inviting input into a deal review, and staying focused. The salesperson is required to be highly attuned to their emotions and their relationship with the prospect and not “lose their cool.”

The “Feel” Learning System

Situational fluency is a complicated — and somewhat intuitive — skill that can be difficult to teach. Improving an employee’s situational fluency relies on emotional learning, which, according to Maddox, is a system in the brain that facilitates the development of a nuanced understanding of situations and people that is critical to success. Someone can have all the facts and figures, as well as a strong behavioral repertoire, but in the end they have to apply the applicable information and engage the appropriate behavior in that specific situation.

In his paper, Leveraging Learning Science - How Qstream’s Mobile Microlearning Solution Changes Behavior, Maddox references the emotional learning system as the “feel” system because it’s about reading and feeling out the situation and establishing an emotional connection to it. The detailed processing characteristics of this system are less understood than the cognitive and behavioral skills learning systems, but emotional learning is at the heart of situational awareness.

How Microlearning Can Help

Mobile microlearning solutions like Qstream are specifically built to drive behavior change by using context-rich, scenario-based storytelling. In the interest of developing broad-based situational fluency, these scenarios should include routine and non-routine contexts, as well as situations in which stress and pressure are high. It is imperative that the scenarios are highly relevant to the actual job or profile of the learner to keep them engaged and have genuine impact on their job proficiency.

Scenario-based training and testing, combined with a broad range of contexts, engages the emotional learning system in ways that enhance the learning of hard and people skills. Scenario-based learning “draws the learner in” so they see themselves in the situation. As the above-mentioned paper indicates, this effectively engages visual representation areas of the brain while simultaneously training the hard and people skills needed to react to any situation.

All skills are important to an employee’s performance, but the most successful employees possess strong situational fluency. Developing these skills involve a blend of nature vs. nurture and can be difficult to teach, but by investing in upskilling programs supported by tools like Qstream’s mobile microlearning app, you are giving employees the opportunity to sharpen both hard and soft skills while transforming them into a highly attuned and effective operators.

7 Upskilling Strategies to Enhance Your Learning and Development Program

To learn more about brain science in the corporate learning environment, as well as how improved situational fluency can give your employees a competitive edge, download this analyst insights white paper, authored by Learning Scientist & Research Fellow Todd Maddox Ph.D. of Amalgam Insights: “Leveraging Learning Science - How Qstream’s Mobile Microlearning Solution Changes Behavior.”


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