Tony Martin | 23 May 2013
In case you didn’t know, since 1999 Campaign for Learning (CfL) has promoted an annual awareness day that supports learning in the workplace. This year it is Thursday 23 May and the theme is “many ways to learn”.
So what you may ask? Well I am a great believer in continuous learning - i.e. you never stop learning - so this year I want you to consider some different approaches to developing new skills and experiences.
Even if you haven't had any 'formal' training for a while, don't rule out learning new skills. The world has moved on and there are a huge amount of opportunities to simply enhance your current skills or prepare you for a career change. Technology is providing new ways of getting you the knowledge you need in an easier and more convenient way, and opportunities are opening up to fit learning around your day job.
To help you consider different ways of learning, here are my 8 suggestions on what you can do for Learning at Work Day 2013.
1. Seek out a Mentor or better still become a mentor
Over the years I have had many conversations with great leaders, managers and team members and they all say that guidance from a respected, experienced mentor is invaluable to helping them aspire in their careers. So go seek out a mentor in your organisation or outside - if you don't ask, you'll never know. And if you really want to develop yourself further, being a mentor to others has a huge amount of reward for both you and your protégé.
2. Become an "Informal learning" evangelist
Many organisations have not yet grasped the concept of informal learning and don't give staff enough time to research and read around subjects or provide the library of resources that staff can dip into when they need to. Teams and departments often do not share experience so others miss out on the opportunity to learn from them. Indeed, in many cases links to peer-reviewed articles, case studies and white papers are not considered worth sharing.. So have a look around your organisation and maybe start to share and collect interesting and useful content to help others build their skills and knowledge.
3. Join a special interest group or professional body
Keeping an eye on what is happening outside your own organisation and in your wider industry is a great way of learning from others. There are many SIG's (Special Interest Groups) and professional bodies that proactively put on events and meetings of like-minded people that will help you develop your own knowledge and experience faster, so why not find one that interests you and join up today.
4. Ask to be a shadow
When I have worked with organisations to create competence development programmes, one area that I suggest is a formal shadowing programme. A lot of aspiring staff have the knowledge but not the experience and a shadowing programme is a great way of ensuring they gain the experience in a safe and controlled way. So ask your manager to be a shadow so you can gain the experience in a specific area.
5. Get a degree
You are never too old to get a degree, and now time is not a barrier either. MSc's, BSc's and MBA's can be studied in the evening and weekends and many organisations will support candidates with a financial arrangement that benefits the business and the individual. So enrol yourself on a Degree course and invest time today to further your career.
6. Do an internal project or assignment
Every organisation has internal challenges and issues and areas where improvements can be made, so have a look at an area in your team or department and set yourself a task to improve it. This may mean spending some time in other departments or teams to learn from them, or going outside your organisation to research solutions. I have often promoted work-based assignments as part of a development programme as there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had by making improvements!
7. Benchmark your skills
Do you know how good you really are? What about in comparison to others in your organisation or even your profession? There are many tools and assessment products that can benchmark your skills and we help many organisations define "what good looks like" for them. So consider giving your skills a health check and benchmark where you are now -you can then look to fill any gaps.
8. Go on a training course
Last but not
least, formal training is a great way of getting knowledge and
often a certification or qualification. These days you have lots of
options to suit your style of learning and your availability; you
can attend a class, download a self-study elearning course, join a
virtual group session online and even join in a class
remotely. So think about the next stage of developing your
own career and choose a course to help you move up or perhaps look
at complimentary skills to what you have already.
If any of these have inspired and motivated you into taking some
positive action to learning at work, then I wish you luck in your
If you want to find out more about how QA can help you or your organisation with any or all of the above, then please search our website for more information or contact us on 0845 757 3888.