Graduates must take control of learning and development. Research shows that job prospects are increasingly influenced by learning and development.
Figures published by the Chartered Management Institute show that employers are attracted to staff that show commitment to their own professional development, because of the knock on effect this can have on business.
Asked to identify reasons for supporting employee development, the top three reasons were:
24% of employees surveyed said that achieving a qualification had led to a promotion and 23% received a salary increase.
Most respondents admit that 'taking time out' to learn new skills improves their self-awareness and interpersonal capabilities.
Continuous learning is vital to be able to meet the changing needs of the business and environment that you are working in. Learning new skills can give you the confidence to approach fresh tasks and make you more valuable to the business you are working in.
Learning new skills doesn't mean that you have to go on the most expensive training courses. Learning encompasses a range of sources including; reading industry specific up to date journals, books, learning from peers and colleagues, bookmarking relevant articles, receiving industry email alerts, all these sources can help you gain more knowledge on the industry that you are working in.
Setting objectives for your learning and development can have a positive impact on job satisfaction levels and career progression. Combing personal and professional development will help to structure your role within an organisation and allow you to focus on improving your performance, which in turn should lead to increased job satisfaction and career development.
Personal objectives should have a direct benefit to you as an individual. For example, you could focus on time management, presentation skills, improving company/industry knowledge. Professional Objectives should benefit both yourself and the organisation. For example, you could develop new business opportunities, improve systems and procedures; increase sales, improve health, safety and environmental systems.
Remember, when setting your objectives, think SMART.
Take some time, daily or weekly, to reflect on your performance and the impact of your actions. If were able to turn back time to repeat a task, how would you improve on your performance?
Reflection should be a constructive experience, not a negative one. If something hasn't gone as well as expected, don't dwell on the negatives, look at what action was taken and how it affected the end results; then consider how to approach things differently the next time you have to face the same task, in order to change the outcome to a positive one.
When something has gone really well and you are proud of the results of your actions, take time to reflective on the reasons why it went so well; look for patterns that could be repeated on future activities to ensure further positive results.
It helps if you record all the development activities that you have been doing to enhance your skills and knowledge. Reflecting and recording encourages analysis and evaluation of our performance ensuring that you are working to and exceeding personal, industry and company standards. This is useful when taking part in probationary and appraisal interviews as you will be more aware of the value you bring to the organisation. This will demonstrate to the company, that you are committed to your personal and professional development; while also assisting you to identifying your strengths and areas that require improvement (never weaknesses; always areas for improvement!)
Each time we reflect and record, we learn and develop from our experiences. Always striving towards better results should help to improve performance and gain greater job satisfaction.