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ATD Blog

Projects and Self-Development Go Hand in Hand

Thursday, January 5, 2023

As talent development professionals, our primary goal is to support the growth of others. We take up project after project, speaking with stakeholders to discover business and learning needs and designing and delivering programs that, hopefully, add to learners’ awareness, knowledge, and skills.

But how often do we reflect on how our projects or programs contribute to our learning needs? Metacognition, or “thinking about one’s own thinking,” is a powerful learning tool that many of us have employed in our programs at one time or another.

Perhaps you’re already using metacognitive reflection as a post-project analysis. If not, it can be very helpful to reflect on each project, to evaluate how it adds to our experience as talent developers. For example, try thinking about:

Alignment to long-term career goals
How is the current project (or the one we just completed) aligned to our long-term professional goals? If there is strong alignment, what steps can we take to ensure more of such projects? And if it wasn’t a great fit, do we have the resources to decline similar projects in the future?


Fulfillment of personal learning aspirations
Did working on the project meet our learning needs? For example, did working on the project push us to read a research paper, learn how to use an app, manage complex budgets, or overcome a previously held bias? Perhaps working on the project helped us learn more broadly about a topic we’re already proficient in.


Meeting short-term objectives
Did we create specific objectives for ourselves at the onset of the project? If yes, were they met? For example:

  • While working on this project, I will try to make one presentation to the C-level stakeholder I’ve always wished was my mentor.
  • While working on this project, I will stop at 5:30 p.m. every day so that I can spend the evenings with my family.

Alignment to organizational and personal brand and values
How we deliver a project is as important as what we deliver. While alignment to organizational brand and values is often discussed in postmortem sessions with the project team, it can be helpful to spend a moment reflecting on how our personal brand and values came into play during the project. Did we use the project to showcase our best selves?

A metacognitive framework helps us identify our strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, progress, and roadblocks during and after each project—all great tools for building a meaningful talent development career that aligns with our personal goals, brand, and values.

About the Author

Swati Sengupta was most recently associate director of training for Takeda Vaccines Global Medical Office. She can be contacted on her blog or via email at [email protected].

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