2020 is on the immediate horizon, and you have a small window of time in which to reflect, think, and plan for the new year before work comes crashing in again. In previous posts, I offered some ideas on reflection and planning for improved communication next year. Here, I focus on professional development, and why you should work that into your plan for 2020.
Let’s begin, as we have before, with reflection. Take some time to take stock of the things you achieved over the last year. When reflecting on the steps you’ve taken to improve your performance, consider these questions:
Have you kept current in your industry and position?
What should you learn more about?
What have you been avoiding learning about?
How has this helped (or hindered) the progress of your projects/career?
How have you stepped up and modelled the professional development behaviour you seek from your reports?
Is improving your knowledge/skills/abilities on your to-do list? If not, should it be?
Once you’ve taken stock of where you’re at, it’s time to look at where you should be going next year. Consider breaking down your professional development plan into 3 streams:
Learning is the area people mainly think about when planning their development. The work world is constantly changing and evolving. What worked for you last year may very well need to be rejigged for next year. Consider gaps in your knowledge as pertains to your current job, or, maybe, a job you’d like to move into. Once you’ve determined what you need to know, plan how you’re going to gain that knowledge. Here are some ideas to consider:
take a course
hire a coach
read books, blogs, articles
listen to podcasts
join a mastermind group
join a professional association
attend a conference
Some of the above also answer the need for connecting. Mastermind groups, professional associations, and conferences all provide opportunities to gain connections within your field of interest. Reaching out to LinkedIn connections who have knowledge in your areas of interest can be a fun and interesting way to learn and move your career forward. I’ve done this many times with great results. Not only have I learned a great deal and gained valuable insight into how to do my job better, but I’ve also made friends. Seek out networking groups and make the effort to put yourself out there. This can be intimidating for many, but it’s worth it.
Don’t forget about making connections within your organization. Who influences your future in the organization? What should you consider, development-wise, to enhance your position in their view? Think about ways you can spend more time with these people. I’ve found simply asking them to join me for a coffee chat has been effective in getting to know them better and in helping me create my developmental path. Cultivating key relationships, inside and outside of the company, should appear on everyone’s plan for growth and development.
An effective way for you to develop and to increase visibility in your industry is by sharing your knowledge. When you share your knowledge publicly, others will come to recognize you as an expert in your field. You’ll gain new respect from colleagues and opportunities to grow your client base. Write posts on LinkedIn, speak up at meetings, or create podcasts and videos to post online. Not only does this create visibility for you, it also enhances your credibility. Side benefit—sharing your expertise leads to more connections and respect from your peers.
“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” ―Robin Sharma
As a manager, you must also consider the professional development needs of your team members and craft growth plans with them. Deciding where to focus limited resources can be a tough task for managers. Still, your team members need professional development for the same reasons you do. Add to that its effect on employee engagement and retention, and there’s a powerful case for discussing and supporting employee growth. Consider the questions and suggestions above through the lens of your reports.
Not only does professional development matter for improved ability to do the job well, but it can also be a swaying factor in the granting of raises and/or promotions. After all, a willingness to improve efficacy can only enhance value to the organization. Invest time now to reflect on what you’ve learned to date, and plan what you’ll need to grow in 2020. Need some ideas? Connect with me. I’m happy to help.
Laura Sukorokoff is the Founder of C-Change Learning and Development and the author of It’s Not Them, It’s You: Why employees “break up” with their managers and what to do about it (due to be released Q1 2020). She makes it her mission to guide managers in their efforts to create people-centered workplaces. Reach out to Laura for help with developing your managerial skill set, and for soft-skills training for your team. Learn more at www.cchangelearning.com.