Talent development professionals are often tasked with helping others in their company develop new skills, learn new processes, and overall stay on top of their professional development. But how often do you focus on yourself when it comes to career development? If you're not taking the time to improve your own skills, how can you ask the same of others?
At the Association for Talent Development last year, all employees not only had to set and complete a learning goal but also share a brief write-up of their experience with the rest of the company via our intranet. ATDers aren't required to choose a learning goal that's work-related, so completed goals ranged from CPR certification and a sailing course to management workshops and user experience/user interface design work. Every week, we read about the latest staff accomplishments—which sometimes had accompanying photos (a newly tiled bathroom floor, a homemade latticed apple pie, a certificate of completion, a website prototype)—as well as the variety of skills our colleagues were learning and some of their nonwork interests.
Although this month's cover story specifically is about the steps to take to start your own business on the side, author Dorie Clark mentions that among the benefits of side jobs are the new skills you'll learn both in the process of getting your venture off the ground and in maintaining it day to day. "Your side venture may increase your status and marketability at work because of the new skills you're learning," she writes.
The same logic applies to ATD's learning goal program. Whether it's a cooking technique to apply at home or a software program to use in the office, in addition to the hard skills, think about the soft skills that may be involved—patience, problem solving, decision making, for example. As Clark writes, "learn new skills, try out those skills in a low-risk context, and then bring that knowledge back to work on Monday."