Growth is an essential part of life and in the workplace. Organizations need their employees to be better equipped to tackle new challenges, solve more significant problems, fill future roles, and adapt to a changing world. Employees who recognize this need and identify their development opportunities are better positioned for career fulfillment and growth.
Everyday experiences provide employees with opportunities to learn in a more organic and contextualized way. Rather than simply memorizing information or skills, employees can apply what they learn to real-life situations, which helps to solidify their understanding and improve their ability to use their knowledge and skills effectively. Here are some ways to get started:
1. Shift Your Lens
The easiest place to start is shifting your lens around what constitutes development. Employees often wait for development to happen to them, an opportunity provided for learning through classroom experiences, from coaching or mentorship, or a promotion or stretch opportunity. Employees can shift this thinking to view their daily work as a learning opportunity. They can do so by testing out a new way of delegating work across teams, facilitating meetings differently, or asking for more explicit feedback on performance.
2. Reflect on Your Why
Understanding the purpose or motivation for professional development can help employees to set clear goals and prioritize their efforts. It will also help involve others in learning by providing a clear purpose for growth; by identifying their “why,” employees can stay motivated and focused on their goals, even when faced with challenges or setbacks.
3. Identify Relevant Skills & Capabilities
It’s best to identify a few (think 2-3) essential skills and capabilities to develop. Consider employee goals for the future and what will be a needed skill to be successful in the organization. Then, identify the most critical skills and capabilities on the list; it’s a best practice to think about ways to leverage current strengths rather than focus solely on closing gaps. This will empower employees to focus their time and energy on what is most important to their role today and necessary for them to develop in the future.
4. Consider the 70/20/10 Rule
Often, employees fill their development plans with lists of aspirational action steps and activities rather than realistic ones. The result is that the development plans become aspirational rather than achievable, a task rather than a roadmap for development.
Shift this approach by focusing the bulk of development strategies to be about different ways of completing their daily work (70%), a small portion on observing and debriefing with highly skilled others (20%), and the smallest amount going toward traditional development activities (10%) – things like taking a course, reading a book, attending a conference.
5. Create Time for Reflection
Reflection is a critical component of learning and growth. By reflecting on their experiences, employees can identify areas where they need to improve and develop strategies for becoming more effective. Reflection can be integrated into an employee’s daily work routine, making it a routine practice that increases self-awareness, creates opportunities for course adjustments, and allows for improved performance.
In conclusion, everyday experiences are a valuable tool for personal growth, leadership development, and career development in the workplace. By incorporating everyday experiences into professional development plans and performance management processes, organizations can help their employees develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed and drive the organization’s overall success.