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Tuesday, 06 August 2019 14:01

Utilising quiet time to plan your development

It’s summertime and the workplace is sweltering (occasionally). The kids are off and with them it appears, half the workforce. With colleagues either away on holiday or juggling childcare, productivity at work may have dipped a little.

So, what can we do to make the most of this summertime lull?

This time of year can be an ideal time to think about and plan your own personal development – especially with September and that manic, back-to-school feeling just around the corner. If you don’t already have a career plan, now’s a great time to be thinking about it.  

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you use the summer quiet-time in the office to look for a new job.  Career and development planning can take many forms including making the most of your current role and skills to move onwards and upwards. You might also explore new avenues – such as training courses or qualifications – that you might need to get to where you want to be.

Firstly, do you know where you want to be in one, three or five years? You can start your career planning by thinking about this if you haven’t done so already. Beginning with a goal in mind is a good starting point, but often people just don’t think about it.

Once you have your goal, everything in your career or development plan can hang off it. If you don’t know where you want to be in the future, take a look at the elements of your job that you’re good at; then look at the parts of your job you enjoy. Where these overlap will be your sweet-spot so investigate roles that will allow you to concentrate on this and aim in that direction.

Map out your skills and experience too. Where are you strongest? What areas need some attention? Where are the gaps between your current skills and those necessary for the role you want to be doing in five years? Are there technical skills in which you fall short or do you recognise a need to develop your behavioural or soft skills?

Once established you’ll need to think about how you’re going to fill those skills gaps. Some will require formal training courses with qualifications attached, some will be areas of your current role that you can focus on to improve. If opportunity allows you could consider getting involved with wider projects in your organisation to expand your skillset or voluntary and charity work that will help develop transferable skills such as planning, organising and leading others.

Again, map these and prioritise them to give you a thorough picture of where you need to focus your efforts. You might come up with many more than you can reasonably fit in – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Your development plan will need to be an ongoing project if it’s going to be worthwhile. Everybody will always have room for improvement. The key is to prioritise those elements that will help you to move in the direction you want most effectively.

Having a plan is all well and good but it’s of little use if it remains theoretical; you have to make it happen. To get things moving have a conversation with your line manager about getting a formal development plan put in place. This will give you an understanding of the kind of support your organisation is willing and able to provide. If financial support is a barrier then research what funded options are available. We currently have a range of funded training courses in Leadership & Management skills that might be an option for you for example.  

Utilise your network. That could be within your current business or through external contacts. There might be an opportunity to shadow other roles for example or become a part of a project team. Ask about what’s going on and put yourself forward to make it happen. Development opportunities are often missed by those who aren’t willing to put their hands up and make it known that they’re looking to further their career.  

With your plan in place, your development needs prioritised, and agreement from your employer, you’re well on the road to that one, three of five-year goal. Remember to regularly review your plan to keep you on course but also remain alert to opportunities that may require a re-alignment of your plan if your goals shift or change.

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Read 593 times Last modified on Wednesday, 21 August 2019 15:50

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