How to Use Self-Directed Training to Amplify Your Top Performers

How to Use Self-Directed Training to Amplify Your Top Performers

How many times have you heard the saying, “If only we could bottle it”? The key opportunity for decreasing training costs and improving performance is leveraging the skills of our top performers, and this is where self-directed training comes into its own. Read on to find out more.

What is Self-Directed Learning?

Now for the science part…

A recent article on the Neuroscience of Self-Directed Learning by the Chief Learning Officer stated that there are two methods by which the efforts and intelligence of top performing employees can be replicated:

1. Emphasize and instill in the top performers the abilities that make them unique

2. Mold other employees to think, behave and act like the top performers

While the former can be achieved through ‘self-discovery’, there isn’t any concrete evidence to suggest the success rate of that method. Self-directed learning, on the other hand, can be attained by the ‘rewiring of neurons into new patterns’ and can help develop everybody to become a top performer.

How is that possible?

The neuroscience of learning states that specific images, words or actions evoke a change in the attitude, perception and thought process of an individual. The effect of these objects, if positive, can drive a person to output profitable and successful ideas as well as attitudes.

For example, let’s take language training, which is a hot topic for any company looking to expand or enter new markets.

Learning a new language can be an outcome of either contributing to the benefit of others or for the survival of oneself. Either way, both the reasons are capable of driving an individual to improve their language skills.

Technology today has given a rise to various platforms, such as VILT learning (Virtual Instructor-Led Training) and self-study online courses, all of which aid in complementing the language-learning journey, whatever the motivation may be.

There are 3 key factors that encourage the creation of top performers through self-directed learning:


  1. Diving into intrinsic motivation to learn
  2. Ample amount of practice to internalize the content learnt
  3. High support from social circle(s)

Putting the Science to Work

Let’s Take the Example of Learning a Language

Language learning.jpg

As with any concept, the theory can be a little tricky, so let’s apply it to some specific training to see how it works.

The methodology of self-directed learning focuses on the following:


  1. The needs of the learner and how they can perform the task at hand in the best way possible.
  2. The three outlining aspects:

  • Purely intrinsic motivation to learn a language
  • Rigorous practice to internalize the content
  • Practical usage in social settings accelerating the learner’s journey to fluency.

Today’s globalized environment has led to super affordable and accessible language learning through technology, be it for personal or professional purpose. Using online platforms, apps or VILT learning to venture into the world of foreign languages is increasingly common.

Moreover, self-directed learning offers a wholly customized learning experience, where the learner can decide on the frequency, schedule and topic of interest (related to language or culture). Therefore, he or she can learn anytime and anywhere, as and when they’re motivated.

How Does Self-Study Learning Feed Off Self-Directed learning?


  1. It meets the requirements of the learner, which in turn enhances the sense of achievement and motivation.
  2. Microlearning lessons with specific learning points leads to rapid absorption with little to no room for mistakes or doubts.
  3. The curiosity levels of the individual remain consistent and support their need for learning.

How Self-Directed Learning Helps Creates Top Performers

Here is the breakdown of the style of self-directed learning that will give you the opportunity to become a top performer, be it when learning languages or acquiring another skill:

  1. Seek the reason(s) that motivates you from within (it can be a need, a wish…)
  2. Understand your learning style (for example; Visual, Verbal, Physical or Aural)
  3. Apply your learning style to the task at hand and entwine it with your motivation
  4. Practice until perfect
  5. Communicate and socialize for support and practice

Going back to our example of learning a language, using the simple steps above can help you turn from a novice foreign language speaker to a fluent one, if implemented efficiently.

Wrapping Up!

Companies and businesses, whether profit or non-profit can use self-directed learning tactics to encourage their employees to work on their own skills. Sharing what top performers say helps in their day-to-day, and giving other employees the opportunity to brush up on those skills themselves is a win-win solution.

Affordable online self-study options means that it can actually be stated as a job requirement, once they are on-boarded, rather than a nice-to-have. Plus single log-on access to a library of skills means that the same tool can be leveraged for all through self-directed choice.

What a great way to empower yourself or your workforce and “bottle” some of that magic “top performer” formula!


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Sue Brett

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