In January 2019 I helped over 25 people to create future-ready Professional Development plans through individual mentoring and a group webinar.
The biggest thing I noticed is how challenging it is for people to set a future-oriented development goal. Even those who did the guided reflection prior to our session often needed help to clarify their goals. Some struggled to think far enough ahead, focussing instead on near-term work tasks and deliverables. Others were overwhelmed by the amount of change in work and learning and weren’t sure how best to position themselves to remain relevant. I lengthened individual mentoring sessions to ensure we had time to set clear yet flexible development goals that built on strengths, were individually motivating and future-relevant.
I’d like to share some things that people found most helpful to stretch and accelerate their development.
(1) Ensure you are looking ahead at least 2 years. Get your head up out of your current work. There are a lot of changes impacting L&D. You should prepare you for what is coming. Balance remaining abreast of industry changes with the development of relevant specialised skills.
(2) Set directional goals rather than SMART goals. SMART goals can be too rigid and near-term. A directional goal is more open e.g. Improve how I can use data more effectively. Directional goals allow you to explore a topic and maintain flexibility to adapt as you learn more.
(3) Broaden your range of development approaches. The schema I use is learn from experience, people, and investigation*. Investigation is about resources and courses.
(4) Be intentional. Don’t be a channel surfer, following the conversation of others or the latest ‘shiny’ topic or social media thread. Invest time to create a PD Plan and regularly review your progress. A directional goal will help keep you on track. Find an accountability buddy and set up a monthly check in. While this is not for everyone, for many (including me) it’s highly motivating to have to tell someone whether I did what I said I would each month.
(5) Create a habit of regular reflection. We all have experiences. The degree to which we learn from them depends on the quality of our reflection. This is a keystone habit that can create a chain reaction of positive change. Yet few people reflect regularly. Put a slot in your diary for regular reflection – as a minimum once a week. Additionally, build reflection into your workflow e.g. after every significant milestone on a project.
If you are interested in mentoring to help you create a future-ready Professional Development plan or sustain your development you can get more information on my services page or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* ‘Experience, People and Investigation’ adopted with permission from Arun Pradhan, creator of Learn2Learn App