How Proficient Are You?

The new cycling proficiency test has been launched, under the snappy new title Bikeability. As a child I looked forward to being old enough to take the test and earn my badge as my parents had convinced me that it was illegal to ride on the road, or unaccompanied by a qualified cyclist. I passed the test and set off on my bike, looking, listening, indicating and stopping at all junctions.

Then I passed my driving test and did the same in a car. Both were a long time ago. I’ve learned a lot about riding and driving since those days. I can drive hundreds of miles a week with no recollection of the driving skills I used. I’m sure I’m a safer road user, but I have no objective evidence. There’s no re-testing required, and I’ve no doubt picked up some bad habits. The only feedback I get is my insurance premium and an occasional hand gesture from another driver.

People have the same difficulty at work, they’ve been on the courses, they know how to lead, manage, sell or plan, they do it day in day out whilst other things happen to distract them. Constructive feedback that helps people to improve is hard to come by. Taking some time out to reflect, either by working with a coach, attending a workshop or gaining 360° feedback, helps people to understand how they’re doing and become consciously competent again.

If you need a reminder of how long it was since you took your cycling proficiency test, try taking this quiz before you next put on your helmet.

To find out how to revive conscious competence within your organisation, contact us.

Outstanding Performance

The British Cycling Team put in a spectacular performance at this year’s World Track Championships. The medal haul included seven golds, three of them for Vicky Pendleton. Meanwhile Nicole Cooke looks to be laying the groundwork for another World Cup win.
Britain’s cyclists are outstanding (and proficient). Meanwhile the British teams seem to be doing significantly less well in other sports. Grim predictions see no athletics medals for the British team at the next Olympics, Britain’s swimmers aren’t keeping up with Australian and American rivals, gymnasts aren’t wiping the floor with rivals.

So if you were in charge of funding UK sports with a view to a good showing in the Olympic medal table in 2012, who would you be backing?

There’s an argument to be made that underperforming sports need a boost, more money would allow more people to train full time or buy equipment. England’s footballers earn a reasonable amount of money and have time to train and practice with some quite good team mates, but don’t seem to be making the most of it.

British Cycling has had funding, but not on the scale of other sports, yet they are putting in outstanding performances, well above what could reasonably be expected of the team.

When you’re next looking to decide where to invest your learning and development budgets, think about what the outputs will be. Investing in people who already perform well and work hard tends to pay off quicker and over a longer term than remedial investment in mediocre performers.