Grow From Wherever You Are

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Are you finding yourself ready for a new challenge? Wishing you could learn a new skill? Hungry for a chance to master some new technology?

You don’t have to wait for your next performance review or goal-setting session to get started. Why not launch your own growth plan right now? You can do this – you just need to take a few moments and reflect on some key considerations before you begin:

First, consider:

  • Who do you want to better support/serve in your work and how do you want to accomplish that?
  • What technologies do you want to learn or master?
  • What new learning trends are you curious about?
  • How do you want to influence or lead as you go forward in your career?

Taking the time to reflect on how you want to grow and what you want to accomplish will get you more focused on the best learning opportunities for you to pursue right now.
Next, consider how you want to grow professionally.  Do you want to do it…

  • By broadening your current skills?
  • Or by deepening the skills you already have?

Broadening means taking the skill set you have and broadening it to include other complementary areas of expertise that will enable you to increase the roles you can take on within your organization. For example, let’s assume you are currently a trainer. You can broaden your role as trainer by:

  • Expanding the topic areas you currently focus on
  • Adding coaching skills to help individual employees improve their performance
  • Offering to facilitate meetings and projects that require different areas of your organization to work together
  • Learning more about the impact of big data on evaluating learning initiatives

For more ideas on broadening, review the latest Areas of Expertise (AOEs) from the 2013 ASTD Competency Study. Each AOE offers ideas for increasing the breadth of your skills and your opportunities to contribute. Consider which ones will complement what you’re doing now and get you prepared for new opportunities in the future.
Deepening means gaining additional expertise in your current role as trainer and then finding opportunities to demonstrate your advanced skills. For example, you can deepen your role as trainer by:

  • Becoming more knowledgeable about recent relevant research such as brain-based learning
  • Mastering new technologies to help you train across a number of platforms
  • Exploring opportunities to work with different employee groups
  • Understanding more about learning styles to better engage different generations

For more ideas on deepening your skills, look to the latest research, articles, and webinars that focus on delivering high-quality training.
Remember, too, that it isn’t a matter of either/or.  You can both broaden and deepen your skills and competencies. What’s important is that you thoughtfully consider what you want to accomplish. You always have more opportunities to grow – choose the ones that get you excited and fit well for the future career moves you want to make going forward.

About the Author
Caitlin Williams, PhD, is an expert in navigating the workplace with grit and grace and co-author of Career Moves: Be Strategic About Your Future (ASTD Press 2013). An atypical career development professional, through her consulting, speaking, and writing, she evangelizes the opportunities for experienced professionals to continue to pursue meaningful work that keeps their performance high, their anxiety low, and their lives moving in the direction that works for them. Witnessing the disheartening effects of the “working worried,” she offers these committed workers specific tools and strategies for flourishing in a always uncertain workplace. Whether experienced professionals are exploring new career paths or pursuing excellence in already chosen careers, she acts as their chief supporter and sounding board. Caitlin is also an organization’s key advisor, guiding leadership in identifying and leveraging employee strengths and critical skill sets and helping them build healthy, productive and innovative workplaces. In her work, Caitlin uses the leading-edge tools of personal branding, appreciative inquiry, personal story, and preferred futuring. These techniques powerfully shift her clients and audiences’ perspective from one that is limited to a history-focused and static view of themselves to one that leverages current strengths and focuses on future possibilities.
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