Magazine article Talent Development

Professional Development, One Bite at a Time: Strategies for Meaningful and Tangible Growth in an Overscheduled World

Magazine article Talent Development

Professional Development, One Bite at a Time: Strategies for Meaningful and Tangible Growth in an Overscheduled World

Article excerpt

Whether you are interested in your own professional development or the professional development of others, it's a lot to swallow. We're all overscheduled with multiple tasks to manage in both our personal and professional lives, but we also must find time to keep current with the trends in our industry.

For many of us, this means reading publications such as T+D, attending conferences, or watching webinars. And quite often, we come out of these learning experiences with one of two reactions: we're motivated to implement every idea we read, but never end up having the time; or we're overwhelmed, wondering how we'll ever keep up with all of the changes.

But there's hope. Many training and development professionals understand the importance of chunking, or breaking learning into smaller, more manageable pieces. When this strategy is used to attain new knowledge and skills, professional development becomes bite-sized, and allows us to make more progress with less.

Personalize it

Learners in our classrooms have their own preferences of how they learn best, and we know as learning professionals the importance of personalizing and tailoring training initiatives to account for these differences. Why should we treat ourselves any differently? Discovering the methods of learning that you find most engaging and memorable will streamline your needs, and it might just make your professional development a little more fun. Here are some strategies.

Pare down. Unsubscribe from all of those email newsletters and webinar reminders; they only serve to over-whelm you and clog your inbox. By being selective with your professional development resources, you're more likely to make it count.

Find your media. Think about what works best for you instead of what you should be doing. How do you best remember materials? What engages you the most? Perhaps this means limiting yourself to only reading journals and books because it's how you remember best.

If you feel as though you're going to miss something by limiting yourself to one medium or method, try rotating them on a weekly or monthly basis. Either way, you gain more focus by choosing from fewer options.

Strategize your media. Look for professional development opportunities that will directly enhance a current project, because it is much easier to implement ideas when you have something practical to attach it to. This means that you might target certain workshops at a conference, or tear out only the relevant pages of a journal or newsletter to further focus your attention. There's no need to spend time on areas that can't be changed right away.

THE MORE FOCUSED AND TARGETED THE OBJECTIVE, THE MORE LIKELY IT WILL TRANSFER INTO WORKPLACE BEHAVIOR.

Make it bite-sized

We would never expect learners to learn in only one way, nor would we expect our trainees to take on the world in one two-hour course. The more focused and targeted the objective, the more likely it will transfer into workplace behavior.

The same holds true for us. Although it's admirable to want to stay current, it only counts when tangible differences can be observed in our behaviors and skills. That kind of development can take several steps over a long period of time.

Choose only one. You've pared down the number of resources coming at you, but now when you read a journal, watch a webinar, or attend a conference, the question becomes, "What is the one skill or piece of knowledge that I am going to apply to the cur-rent project I identified earlier? …

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