Some companies have centralised or local-level development plans for their people, increasingly there are committees who meet to discuss their employee abilities and the future need for development within the organisation. Are you one of those people who hope that one day they (the committee) will discover you, you hope they have a development plan for you?
These meetings are backed up with yearly appraisals, thus meaning you need to wait for one whole year to get any information on how you are progressing, and then get a year to work on your development plan and improve on the skills/competencies identified in the appraisal.
What if a soccer team thought in the same way “Let’s play the game for one year and then we can meet to discuss how we are doing and come up with some improvements that we need to see during the next year”!
You may already work for one of those companies that already have identified a need to keep up with personal development changes in your field/position, this would then be recognized through:
- A clear personal development plan, on-the-job as well as off-the-job training
- Clear improvement targets
- Regular feedback
- Monthly appraisals
- Within your team- learning from each other
If you are not that lucky or want to keep a parallel track on your development then there are many things you can do to ensure that you yourself are in charge of your own development.
Take 15-30 minutes per week to watch one video that you find on TED Talks, YouTube or do a Google video search on a specific topic that you might be interested in. After one year you have then received insights on at least 40 new subjects that might in-turn give you an interest for your future path.
Join a class on iTunes U or YouTube from a free online training provider. When you find one check for references and reviews before you start. Then join a forum on LinkedIn and share/discuss your findings. If you have colleagues that are interested in the same areas you could discuss together and then share your findings and learnings.
Ask your colleagues and subordinates for feedback. Don’t ask what you are doing well, but instead ask specific questions. If cultural differences make it difficult to ask subordinates, then ask your manager or maybe friends that know you well. See feedback as a gift, even if you don’t like what you receive – just say thank you!
Search for free personality tests or indicators – you will find several tools available online to explore your personality for free such as; similarminds.com, brighttalk.com, queendom.com. Or download the Insights For You App here and start a 360! If several tools are pointing in the same direction then it may be something to think about.
Call a consultancy company to get a more professional assessment carried out, be clear about why you are doing it and what you need. This might include: Psychometric assessments, interviews, reflection and 360 assessments.
What do you want to learn more about? Think about what projects or activities would give you more knowledge on the topic; is this project available within your organization or outside? Since it is an investment in your future you might need to do this outside working hours.
Who do you know that has the knowledge you need? Ask him or her if they would be prepared to meet, for example, 5 times per year to discuss specific topics and where they share their knowledge and experiences of what worked for them and what did not.
If your current position is not giving you new challenges and the training you need to stay attractive in the market and your employers don’t react positively when you initiate a discussion about it, then It might be time to leave (Check with someone you trust to give you honest feedback if your demands are realistic first).
In today’s job market it is common that a lot of vacancies are filled through contacts within networks, these may be digital, school, job or private networks. Make sure you are keeping your network up-to-date and nurture it with material, knowledge, meetings, lunches, support etc. to ensure people in your network want to support you when you need it. You need to invest before you can harvest.