During this pandemic, a lot of things have been out of our control.
But one thing that has stayed squarely within our sphere of influence is our own development.
If you haven’t already taken the reins of your own learning, here are some steps toward making certain—in this time of uncertainty—that your development continues. Doing so will benefit your work, your colleagues, your organization and your career.
- Assess your knowledge and skills. Spend time considering what you know and can do well right now. Ask yourself what knowledge and skills would help you perform better in your current role. Reflect on what knowledge and skills would help you advance to and perform well in your next role. Consider both “hard” skills—like becoming an expert in the software you use every day—and “human” skills—such as communication, relationship-building, problem-solving and taking initiative. After you do your own reflection, ask your supervisor, mentor and/or colleagues how they would assess your knowledge and skills. Write down what you learn.
- Create an individual development plan. Based on what you wrote down in step 1, look for offerings that would help you fill the knowledge and skills gaps you have identified. Many online learning opportunities have come of age during the pandemic. Going forward, you will also able to add in-person learning events to your plan. Membership in some industry organizations includes on-demand content with tracking functionality that may be helpful to your efforts. These memberships may also include discounts for learning programs.
- Execute on your development plan. Sometimes the hardest part of taking ownership of your own learning is delivering what you’ve set out to do. Some strategies for creating a habit of learning include blocking time on your calendar for it, starting the day with learning before things get busy and celebrating accomplishments along your path. You can also take stock in your ongoing on-the-job learning. Things like stretch assignments can help you strengthen your skills and apply what you’ve learned in more formal training sessions.
- Take additional actions that will help you retain your new knowledge and skills. According to the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science, teaching others helps students retain 90% of what they read. So, talk with others about what you’re learning. Other good techniques for improving your knowledge retention include taking breaks while you’re learning and quizzing yourself during and after learning.
When you take the reins of your own learning, you can boost the skills you need to excel in the seat you’re in—or better position yourself to move up. Please let me know what strategies work best for you.