You might be one of the fortunate people whose company is serious about employee development. If you are this article can still be useful in helping you fill in any gaps the existing process might have.
For those less fortunate among you this will give you a roadmap to use proactively in creating the core components of an effective personal development process. There are 5 components. This article provides a basic "to do" list for each of the components.
Clear Performance Plan
- Work with your manager to develop and document clear, measureable performance goals with defined metrics
- Understand your manager's goals and how your work impacts them
- Understand your departmental goals and how your work impacts them
- Understand the company goals and how your work impacts them
- Ask your manager to commit to a regular schedule of progress review discussions during your performance year; come prepared with a self-appraisal and questions you want to ask that will enable you to use your strengths and understand what you still need to work on
- Don't be afraid to ask, "How am I doing?"
- Listen, observe and learn from others
- Learn from setbacks and disappoints not just successes
Coaching and Mentoring
- Engage at least 2 people as coaches/mentors; one from inside your organization and one from the outside
- Understand that there are 4 areas where these people can be invaluable: how to get your job done; understanding the truth about yourself; how to build good relationships; how to lead others
- Ask for brutally candid and honest observations and impressions and be prepared to use the insights they provide
Multiple Sources of Feedback
- Cultivate your network of relationships; identify people who will be candid and can help you understand your strengths and development needs
- See is your company will support a 360 survey feedback process; if they won't think about creating and distributing your own (maybe with the help of HR)
- Regularly ask key confidants to share their observations of your interactions with others
- Use people as sounding boards before dealing with particularly difficult situations
- Only seek feedback if you really want to accept it and use it to learn, grow and improve
- If your company offers Assessment processes take advantage of it; 61% of people who benefit from assessments become high performers compared to only 7% of those who don't
- If your company doesn't offer it, go on-line and choose from the many free basic profiles available. They aren't as comprehensive as good assessments but it will give you some initial helpful insights and information about yourself
Identify Focused Training and Development Activities
- Organize the information from the previous 4 processes and identify the themes in the data; then think about your current job, your performance deliverables and the skills you need in order to be effective.
- Identify the gaps as you do that analysis; use others as a sounding board
- Engage your manager and others in identifying 3 training and development activities for the next 12 months (as a starting point); try to have a balance of reading, workshops and project team/task force "learning by doing" time
Remember, if your company doesn't currently do much to help you grow, you can let yourself become a victim and nothing will change or you can start to act on the items in these checklists and begin to change things one action at a time.