Take Charge

Use professional development to ensure you and your team continue to thrive in the ever-changing world of work.


Today’s learners are experiential, social learners, who like to interact with the content, explore the options and then draw their own conclusions. One size no longer fits all. As a result, the fashion for two-week residential training courses has been abandoned in favour of shorter, sharper, more pragmatic learning, which is explicitly linked to the requirements of evolving work tasks. While there is growing consensus around how the majority of learners wish to develop, there is frustration with regard to how upskilling is currently taking place. The LinkedIn 2018 Workplace Learning Report revealed that people want more efficient, effective and flexible learning, made available to them on their terms, to allow them to upskill faster than ever before. According to the report, which is based on a survey of around 4,000 professionals globally, 68% of employees prefer to learn at work, 58% want to learn at their own pace and 49% of employees like to learn at the point of need. For this to happen, however, organisations need to know how to access reliable and proven content. Equally, learners need to feel more empowered to take charge of their own professional development. So, what can you do to take charge of your own professional development and support the development of others?


Here are five practical ideas for how you can develop yourself:

1. Seek out a credible mentor. Musician Ray Charles mentored Quincy Jones. Fashion designer Christian Dior mentored Yves Saint Laurent. Scientist Albert Einstein was mentored by Max Talmud. Select your own mentor wisely. As entrepreneur Jim Rohn famously observed, we are all the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time, so make this one person count.

2. Set yourself great big outrageous goals (GBOGs). Great big outrageous goals shouldn’t work, but they do. They stretch you out of the ordinary and are so ambitious that they resonate with you and others. They offer the power to elevate us beyond what we ever thought was possible. At the age of 16, Winston Churchill shared his own GBOG, when he was quoted as saying: “I tell you I shall be in command of the defences of London … in the high position I shall occupy, it will fall to me to save the capital and save the Empire.

3. Begin a journal. Personal reflection is a great way to develop self-awareness and capture all your important observations. Keep an ideas file that contains unusual personal development suggestions and innovative ideas. Review your entries at the end of every week. It doesn’t matter whether you use a tatty old notebook, a leather binder or one of the new online sites such as 750words.com – where you can receive feedback on your thoughts.

4. Remember much more of what you learn by using spaced repetition. Take the same approach as the latest learning-based software and improve your personal retention levels by repeating any learned material over increasingly spaced intervals. This technique has been proven to enhance your ability to recall information at a later date.

5. Get an earful. You will probably have heard of TED Talks, but if you prefer to learn on the go, try tuning in to the TED Radio Hour show at npr.org. This delivers thought-provoking podcasts by some remarkable people.


And here are five practical ideas for how you can develop others:

Reject the conventional wisdom that says people can be fixed. Recent evidence reveals that your energies may be better invested in trying to draw out what has been put in, rather than wasting time attempting to address what has been left out. Where possible, focus on strengths, not weaknesses.

2. Throw out the old sandwich. The overused ‘praise sandwich’ technique for providing feedback (consisting of praise-criticism-praise) dilutes the message and is rarely effective. Give positive feedback when the employee has earned it and negative feedback when it is necessary. Offering praise and criticism independently of one another is more respectful towards the employee and builds trust between you.

3. Find out about the Dunning–Kruger effect. This is a cognitive bias where unskilled individuals tend to mistakenly assume their ability to be higher than it actually is. At the same time, highly skilled individuals tend to overestimate the relative capability levels of others by assuming tasks that are easy for them will also be easy for their colleagues.

4. Invest in those who invest in others. Demonstrate organisational commitment to your learning practitioners by making their roles a springboard position into other, more senior managerial positions. Underline the importance of “enabling the skills of others” during succession planning exercises. Bolster managerial capability and career planning by insisting that all employees should have spent time in a people development or coaching role, prior to being appointed into a managerial position.

5. Be there, be useful, be quick. Apply these three principles of Google’s ‘Micro- Moments’ to your approaches to self-directed learning. Take advantage of emerging technologies to enable people to consume information through their mobile devices at a time that is convenient to them. Enable your staff to receive short and easy-to-access learning opportunities, which are both quick and useful. Examples could include gaming technologies, infographics, PDFs, podcasts, video clips and relevant articles.


Who does the future belong to?

The world of work is increasingly characterised by unexpected and continuous transitions, multiple careers and fast-paced advancements. As a result, people in all sectors are becoming more selective about what they want from their professional development. They are also becoming more instrumental in their own self-development. This is because they recognise, as author Robert Greene once said, that “the future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways”.



Extract from an article written by Chris Watson of Endor Learn & Develop, for 'Edge' magazine
by The Institute of Leadership and Management. See pages 74-75:  ILM_Article


Want more great ideas?

Discover more proven, provocative and (sometimes) perverse ideas to develop yourself and others inside the Amazon #1 bestseller ‘Upskill: 21 Keys to Professional Growth’, which provides 840 practical ways to help people adapt to new approaches and work methods. The book can be used to support upskilling through the identification of relevant and realistic options for professional growth. Readers will discover a host of proven techniques: relevant quotes, articles and resources; carefully selected videos; novel approaches; time-saving apps; topical insights; and engaging ideas. This compendium of high leverage tools and techniques delivers a dynamic snapshot of learning possibilities, and can be used by managers, supervisors, coaches and HR and training professionals – as well as proactive employees who are committed to their own personal growth. Download a free sample chapter:  Upskill_Sample


Posted On: 01 Jan 2020