Maintaining momentum in your personal training and professional development is vital but what are the best methods for achieving this goal?
Training, reskilling and upskilling are an essential part of the career journey of today’s worker. We now work in a fast-moving, competitive landscape with a strong requirement for the most up-to-date skills and knowledge. Workplace learning and training is hugely beneficial for both employee and employer.
Continuous learning in theory is wonderful when achieved but maintaining progress on the journey is not always straightforward. In this blog we look at some of the best methods to for a successful training programme and accomplish your goals.
- How continuous learning builds confidence, credibility and career success.
- Using learning goals to identify areas for development.
- How to motivate yourself for self-directed learning.
- Measuring the impact of your training programme.
- Applying what has been learned in your working life.
- Celebrating achievements and building for the future.
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Benefits of always learning
The process of continual learning has many benefits both for employees and organisations. Keeping skills and knowledge up to date means that professional standards are maintained. It not only ensures employees remain competent in their current role but allows them to stay-ahead of the game too.
Those employees that are always educating themselves build their confidence and credibility is built. It also equips them with the best aptitude for decision making when meeting the new challenges.
The long-term impact of this is that their employability is increased and promotion opportunities enhanced.
For organisations, the process of continuous learning adds value by increasing overall productivity, encouraging innovative thinking and agility. This will also help employee engagement and retention while most importantly providing a competitive advantage for its teams allowing them to outperform competitors.
Types of learning goals
Learning goals are the intended purposes and desired achievements of a particular course, which identify the knowledge, skills, and capacities a student in that class should achieve.
Management influence learning
It is important that management influence the study process too. This will help ensure that employees have the right knowledge, skills, and abilities to reach the organisation’s vision. And, if not, assess where the gaps are and make sure appropriate training programmes are developed to reach the business's goals.
Improving the skills and knowledge to developing competences will not only mean that performance of your role is improved but will also ensure more opportunities for further professional advancement.
Self-directed learning is a strategy which allows learners to take responsibility for their own development journey. As it relies heavily on the intrinsic motivation of the learner it is often useful if it is tied to personal interests, even if these areas of interest fall outside the normal job role.
However, if a self-directed learner can also align their objectives with the organisation's goals.
It is vital that self-directed learners are able to diagnose knowledge gaps and identify their goals. They also need to be aware of tools and resources available to them and organisations have a role to play in highlighting courses, providing tools and making sure expert coaching is accessible.
Best practice for learning goals
To effectively develop momentum relies on it is vital to understand where you want your professional path to lead. To achieve this, you will need to set goals and objectives and measure the impact
Learning goals help to clarify the purpose of courses for both employees and the organisations they work in. These state what the learner is expected to accomplish as a result of their programme.
Understand what goals you want to achieve
One of the best ways to keep momentum in your training and development is to set clear goals for where you want to be. A career map should articulate long-term professional ambitions with a set of smaller chronological goals that you need to reach them.
Your map can be as simple as a review of your current skills and what you need to develop to reach your next professional goal, but it can also be much more detailed. It can also assess at specific competencies that can be learnt you can also consider areas or niches where you would like to develop an expertise, making yourself the organisation's point of reference for that responsibility.
Set clear learning objectives
Setting targets and objectives is a great strategy that helps create focus, track progression and encourage engagement with the development programme.
It is useful to outline exactly what you want to achieve. The SMART goals acronym is particularly useful as it provides a framework for the design of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound goals.
One the framework is in place you can research and identify what resources you need to realise your goals. Look for existing courses, events, webinars and tutorials where new skills can be learned and existing ones sharpened.
Measure the impact
Keeping track of your learning journey will help maintain momentum and motivation as well as ensuring there is a record of achievements. So, keep a log of what has been learnt and the time spent, no matter what the medium was.
More important than simply keeping a record though is measuring the impact of your training in your working life. For this to happen first your new abilities and knowledge must be implemented on a regular basis. Look for areas where your training has a measurable impact. Are you now faster? More productive? Has the firm's revenue increased as a result of improved performance? Has it improved the customer experience? Are you able to lead and pass on new skills to others?
At a management level, one strategy for maximising engagement would be to incorporate online learning progress into an employee’s performance review or their ability to apply for a promotion. This highlights to the employee that the organisation is prioritising development while also ensuring that education becomes a self-directed, employee-driven experience.
Tips to keep momentum
Setting goals is the easy part. Developing new skills and making sure that they are taken beyond the training period and into future working lives is harder. It is important to use effective strategies for maintaining momentum and motivation so upskilling and consolidation of knowledge continues.
When starting out completing a big task can appear daunting. Positive outcomes are easier to reach when it is broken down in smaller chunks. Identify the small steps that can be taken to help you reach your main goal.
LinkedIn in particular can be a great place to stay motivated. Follow relevant hashtags and people who work in the areas you are interested in developing your abilities - you will see posts of people sharing their stories, things they've discovered or their opinions on matters.
Write posts yourself of your achievements and outcomes - share them with your network. Getting congratulation messages can help you feel positive with what you've learnt.
Finding time to invest in yourself and can be difficult. Particularly around other commitments. Be firm with your time. Block time out in your calendar to concentrate on your studies. Stick to it by avoiding adding meetings or using it as time to catch up on other work.
Sharing what you've learnt can be a great motivator and there are a range of activities that can help in this regard.
Lunch-and-learns or skill-sharing sessions with co-workers create forums where recent training can be discussed in a more informal setting and ideas can be exchanged. They also encourage other team members to share what they've learnt too. Be enthusiastic and grateful to colleagues when they share their expertise. This can help encourage an atmosphere where learning and sharing occurs.
You should also attend relevant networking events. These events allow learners to socialise and meet with other learners, colleagues, and business associates in a professional environment.
Register for industry or relevant news and publications and take the time to read the latest articles. They offer a great source of shared experience and knowledge. You can also sign up to apps like medium.com, which allow you to build up your own feed of relevant publications.
Adding to your expertise and professional knowledge can be hard. It is important to remember to celebrate your own achievements and successes. Share them on social media by posting on LinkedIn or other professional networks. Take time to shout about what you've achieved.
It can be challenging to keep momentum going in terms of personal training and professional development. Finding the time to train and upskill is often a challenge and motivating yourself to do extra can be difficult while dealing with a busy schedule.
However, the rewards of keeping skills and knowledge up to date are clear and benefit both the employee and their organisation. It is therefore vital to stay on the continuous learning journey.