Differences Between Knowledge and Skills Training

A mobile phone offering a deskless learning platform like Enabley

There’s a huge difference between the knowledge of something and the skills needed to DO that something. Knowledge is not the same as “training”. Neither is it simply the circulation of information. While it does include these things, knowledge transfer has more to do with identifying and harnessing your team members’ adaptable skills and abilities to apply information.

One of the biggest challenges for organizations is what happens after the training. Typically, training is seen as an isolated event. After a training event, many learning development professionals and supervisors find themselves questioning why the employee is not utilizing the content or why performance hasn’t increased. These questions suggest that knowledge transfer did not occur.

Having Knowledge is only half the equation. The other half is Training.

Training allows you to internalize and utilize knowledge and implies practice. Practice implies doing something repeatedly to the point where you can adapt and apply your knowledge.

While we know of the many kinds of training that can be offered, you might be surprised by just how much shareable knowledge already exists in your company.

At enabley, we emphasize the difference between knowledge and training by two different sections – for knowledge transfer, we call it a Stream. For Training, this is a Course that enables updating information or any other relevant information with the exact skills to complete your tasks.

So, what is the main difference in usage?

Training boosts employees’ abilities for the actual job required. Anecdotally, we know that employees who receive effective training, and encouragement from their manager to apply new skills, transfer those good feelings to a commitment to their role, team, and ultimately their organization. Additionally, while it can be difficult to pinpoint the ROI of learning and development activities, we are able to measure retention and productivity output.

Knowledge sharing is best for some of these situations (and much more):

  • Tactical knowledge, like values, attitudes and experiences
  • Re-utilizing proven solutions – avoid having to start from scratch for similar projects
  • Organization-specific information or processes
  • Lessons learned from actual employees and organizational experience
  • Immediate answers, by accessing a knowledge management system, asking others on a social channel or collaboration with colleagues
  • Both knowledge and training are needed to advance our careers. Without knowledge of the process, different personality types, or our product, all the training in the world will not matter. Training without knowledge is meaningless because you are mirroring and therefore unable to adapt your skills as the knowledge has not been internalized to make it work.

In order to become the best salesperson or client-facing team member, it is necessary to gain knowledge, but the training on how to apply that knowledge in the right situation will enable you to become a more valuable resource to your clients and prospects.

With our smartphones and other devices, we have access to all the knowledge in the world. But that access does not convey any skill—except the ability to consume content. Access to knowledge does not improve capabilities, productivity, or performance. In order to make the knowledge more accessible, it is up to the training manager to provide a more COMPREHENSIVE learning experience. Be aware that learning does not start and stop with the training session. Make sure to take care of all the stages of learning transfer: before, during, and after training.

The future of knowledge transfer

It is understood that in the coming years, two forces will continue to impact the learning landscape for organizations: agility and employee experience. With industries and employee environments experiencing rapid change and growth, organizations must be agile to adjust quickly and thrive. A key part of that is learning. Team members’ needs are changing to. This brings to the forefront benefits like wellness programs, career development, and training that can boost staff loyalty and passion. Prioritizing funding for training and knowledge sharing allows organizations to focus on people to navigate change and achieve overall goals.

Remember, your sales prospects also have access to the Internet, so they can gain the same knowledge as you. Your value comes when you can quickly and beneficially apply that knowledge to your client’s situation. This is widely regarded as sales coaching. The best sales coaches understand that skills can only be perfected with realistic examples and practice.

One client started to use knowledge Streams for their sales department while they were at a conference. The impact was HUGE! Imagine being asked a question on the spot and being able to access the exact stream with the relevant information. You’ve already positioned yourself as the expert, and now you’re able to act and sound like one too.

In Summary

Knowledge sharing involves the information needed to perform well in a job, usually obtained through formal education or on-the-job experience. This knowledge is necessary for performance but is not sufficient on its own.

Training is a unique ability or technique acquired in either an intellectual or physical area. Skills can include listening, communicating, designing, and programming. Skills allow an individual to select the most appropriate behavior or action to suit task requirements. Understanding this difference helps distinguish between these areas of learning. It allows you to act accordingly for each section, bearing in mind methodology and philosophy.

For next time, when you train new skills or give access to knowledge, remember these differences and make sure to give each area what is needed to make it drive results. 

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