Top 2 tips from the experts on personal development

Recently I was talking to some HR professionals about how they cope with change in the workplace. Many of them were involved in large-scale projects which meant that they were experiencing new tasks and situations every day. As a result personal learning and development was happening along the way.

During such busy times it is difficult to really bed in these new skills and experiences and the conversation moved on to the best way to capture this development process for themselves, and to pass on to others.

The top two suggestions they came up with were both interesting and useful. Interesting because they seem so simple and yet they were clearly quite powerful. Despite (or because of?) their simplicity, they can easily be overlooked.

If you want to apply some of them to your own learning and development here they are:

  1. The most popular suggestion was to keep a reflective log (a diary or notebook) to capture the learning as you go along. This is an effective tool because learning requires reflection (think about all the revision you did at school / college!). It also prevents on-the-job learning from becoming accidental and, as a result, missed.
  2. The second idea was to get support from other people. This might be a mentor, coach or buddy but it must be someone you can speak to openly and confidently about the situation you are dealing with. Talking, like writing, helps you to process the information you are dealing with in a logical and practical way. Explaining what you are experiencing can also help you make sense of the situation.

Whether you decide to write or talk, to help you improve your learning and development, it helps to put some structure around the process. You can do this by using these questions to help shape your thoughts:

  • What have I learnt this week and what was the single most important learning point?
  • What have I achieved? How does this affect my job / the business?
  • When was I most engaged in the activity and what was I doing?
  • When was I most distanced from the activity and what was I doing?
  • What did I struggle with and how did I overcome this?
  • What feedback have I had? What did they say?

Finally, remember that learning, development, job satisfaction and employability all go together. And they should also be enjoyable as careers are a lifelong journey - not a destination.

As the master of blues, B. B. King once said “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you”.