How do I develop myself? (Re-post)

“How do I find time for my own personal development?” That was a question a client asked me recently and it sparked an interesting conversation. Do you find time or do you make time?

Fed up by her company deciding on her next role, she wanted to take matters into her own hands. Her focus was her own career progression within the same organisation. She realised that there was no question about finding or making time. Making time was her only option if she wanted to determine her future herself.

Michael Moran, the CEO/Founder of 10Eighty, once suggested that we’d plan our careers like our holidays. It’s only January and my team and I had probably 12 chats about the places we wanted to visit this year. There weren’t 12 conversations about how we’d like to develop ourselves career-wise in 1, 2 or 5 years. Do you have these in your team?

Workforce planning is nowadays routine for most companies. It’s harder for you though to decide what job you’d like to have in 2, 5 or 10 years. But if you’re not pro-active in defining your personal development, you may get the short end of the stick. Are your skills up-to-date if you had to find a new job today?

Invest in yourself and start your unique personal development plan.

Identify your career goal.

Find out what your career ambition is. Not everyone needs or wants to become the head of a department or managing director. Not everyone is suitable for these levels, either. That’s perfectly fine!

You may be very happy performing at your level or in your field. There’s no desire within you to move upwards. Again, that’s perfectly fine, as this is your life and career.

You may also discover that you’re working to live. Your main focus in life is your family, your friends, your music, your sports or whatever else interests you. These people, hobbies and interests are far more important than your job and your personal development would probably focus on these areas, rather than work.

What is your dream job?

Often, people are complaining about their jobs, management or the company. They can be stuck in a job that’s not reflecting their vision or is not aligned to their values.

If you could do anything, what would it be? How close or far is it from what you’re doing now?

If your dream job is out of reach, what’s the second closest job? For example, if you won’t be able to become a professional athlete due to your performance, could you become a professional coach for that sport?

If you’re already working in your perfect job, congratulations!

What skills, knowledge and experience do you require?

If you were made redundant by your company today, would your skills and knowledge be current to get the same role with a different employer?

What about moving towards your dream job? Or your current role on a different or higher level or in a different industry?

Search job descriptions and vacancy announcements, speak with people already doing this job, read about the industry to understand what skills and experiences are needed to carry out the job.

Perform a gap analysis.

If your skills set is no longer up-to-date, what is required? If you’re looking at your anticipated next role, what skills, knowledge or experience does it need? What’s needed for your dream job?

What do you already have and bring along? Write this down to identify the gap between your current skills and knowledge vs what’s required.

What actions can you take? What actions do you need to take?

Now that you know where your gaps are, brainstorm how you can fill them. What formal training courses are available? For example, if you require an undergraduate degree, check out study options at your local university or research online courses.

Also check out informal training opportunities. You could learn about or deepen your knowledge by using specific software, working on a project or reading books on the subjects.

Use available resources.

More and more companies are providing learn centres or corporate universities where they’re offering self-paced, computer-based training (CBT). They may not always have the very specific course you’re looking for. Who said you can’t broaden your skillset by taking a similar course?

Speak with your manager, HR team and/or leaning and development team about formal training courses. As these are generally to be paid by the organisation, training needs to be budgeted in advance. If it’s too late for this year and your manager agrees on the training, remind them to budget for the course for the next fiscal year.

Speak with your colleagues and ask them to introduce you to their work. Shadow your colleagues when they’re working on a new software, designing a new campaign or creating a proposal. Their and your work obligations may not allow you to shadow them for a full day or even week. Consider how you can break it down into smaller timeframes accommodating both of you.

Volunteer for projects to gain practical exposure. This is a great way to also apply your theoretical knowledge and test how it works in the real world.

Volunteer work is not just at the work place. If you belong to a club or are active in your community, you can take on roles, probably on a smaller level than in a corporate setting, and gain more experience.

Your HR and/or learning and development team can also provide you with names of trainers and coaches if you want to take up a private training outside of work.

Contact your network. Not only can they share valuable insights into their role, organisation and industry, but also offer you advise and can link you with others. While networking used to be restricted to only your own industry, make an effort to meet also people who’ve little in common with you. Having a completely different perspective can be very rewarding.

My former boss Ann asked us to spend 1 hour a week reading articles about our field and the developments in our industry. It was fantastic to know what was going on and how it impacted me. Not knowing at the time, Ann gave us a wonderful gift and I’m still using an hour per week to keep abreast. It’s become part of my personal development.

What do you do for your personal development at work? I’d love to hear how you’re managing your career. Just leave a comment below.

Until next time,

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