Turning New Skills Into Habits

Newly promoted employees often have a hard time turning new skills into automatic habits required for reliable execution in the new role, according to a new study of 1,420 people by leadership training company VitalSmarts. 

Newly promoted employees often struggle to quickly and adeptly transition into their new roles, according to a new study of 1,420 people by leadership training company VitalSmarts. Specifically, they struggle to turn new skills into automatic habits required for reliable execution in the new role.

VitalSmarts Vice President of Research David Maxfield and Vice President of Product Development Emily Gregory offer these tips for accelerating habit formation:

  1. Focus on one or two “keystone” habits: These are behavioral habits that will create small wins and momentum—habits that will naturally lead to other good habits.
  2. Don’t break old habits; replace them: Create new small, specific, concrete routines and make sure you have the knowledge, skills, and tools to maintain the new behavior.
  3. Identify cues: Determine what you will put in place to trigger this new habit. It could be a notification, seeing a specific person, a certain time of day, etc.
  4. Identify rewards: Choose a reward that gets you excited to execute the behavior, and make that reward both immediate, obvious, and one that happens every time you do the new behavior.
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