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Assess yourself

Deborah’s advice on assessing yourself comes from Chapter 10: Upskilling and professional development

I have been a management trainer and coach for the last 20 years and one thing I have observed is that successful people are proactive, not reactive, about their career planning and personal development. They take responsibility for their learning and recognise that it requires time and energy investing in it. It is always important to remember that no-one else is as interested in your life as you are!

Personal development planning involves asking yourself three key questions:
Where am I now?
Where do I want to be?
How will I get there?

Where am I now?
In order to start to develop a picture of where you are now you need to spend some time considering the following questions – this may take some time and you might find that you need to come back to this exercise a few times.

1. What skills do I have? (A skill can be defined as something that is acquired or developed through training or experience. Skills can be divided into 5 broad categories – planning and organising, communication, working with others, information technology and problem solving.)

2. Can I identify things that I have achieved that demonstrate those skills?

3. What do I enjoy doing most at work?

4. What motivates me?

Where do I want to be?

I find this is a question that people often find very difficult to answer – a few people will describe their career plan in great detail but the majority are so relieved at securing their first professional role they are not looking beyond that. However, it is important to have some idea of how you want to progress, as well as what you need to do to develop in your current role. Spend a few moments thinking about the following questions:
What would I like to be able to do that I currently don’t feel I have the knowledge or skills to?
What have I tried to do in the past that I have not succeeded at or felt I could have done better?
What feedback have I received from my manager, colleagues and customers that has shown me that I need to improve my skills?
Where do I want to be in two years time?
Where do I see myself in 10 years time?

‘If you don’t know where you are going you will probably end up somewhere else.’ Laurence Peters

One simple way to start to move towards where you want to be is with a small goal and work up – the following exercise can help you to do that.

Exercise – Goal Setting
Think about your current job.
What is that you most enjoy at the moment?
What would you like to do more of?
Identify one action that will help you get more of what you enjoy.

Case study
A delegate on a training course started this process by identifying what he enjoyed in his current job and what he would not want to lose. He decided that he really enjoyed the impromptu training he had been doing in his current role and would like the opportunity to deliver more training sessions. He then set a very short term goal to have a conversation with his manager to see if he could slightly adjust the balance in his current role to enable him to do more training. He achieved this goal within a fortnight and agreed with his manager that he could take a more active role in student inductions. This eventually gave him the confidence to realising that his ultimate goal was to do training full time.
He set a two year time span for this and from there had conversations that started to push him in the right direction.

How will I get there?
There are many activities both at work and in life that can provide opportunities for learning. When we think about ways to develop our knowledge and skills we sometimes only consider courses and other formal development routes. Have a look at the list below and identify how many of these you have used to develop yourself over the last two years.
• Training courses
• Conferences
• Coaching
• Delegation
• Job rotation
• Secondment
• Job shadowing
• Giving presentations
• Sitting on working parties
• Reading
• On line tutorials
• Internet research
• Journals from professional bodies
• Evening classes
• Mentoring
• Attending meetings
• Chairing meetings
• Writing reports
• Social media
• Action learning groups
• Networking
• Volunteering
• Seeking feedback from colleagues
• ……………………………………………….
The list is endless and it is important to identify the ways that you learn best and develop your plan to suit your learning style.
One final note is remembering the importance of taking action – that may sound obvious but a lot of people are quite good at identifying goals and discussing them and not as good at turning those goals into action. This is usually because they have not identified the first steps, these are critical because if the action appears too big in our mind then we fall at the first hurdle.
First steps need to be:

  • Very specific
  • Something that will move us toward the goal
  • Things that we can do within 5 days maximum (preferably within 48 hours)

Quick Tips

  • Keep your CV up to date – it is a daunting task to review your CV if you haven’t looked at it for 10 years!
  • Start collecting job advertisements of roles that interest you – this will help you to identify the skills and traits that you might need to develop to apply for those posts in the future.
  • Keep your CPD file current – keep copies of training attendance certificates, make a note of achievements, keep any letters/e-mails of thanks or recognition for work well done etc.
  • Regularly review your career goals – as our lives change so do our aspirations. It is important to set goals but it is just as important to be willing and able to adjust them if circumstances change.
  • Seek feedback from others on a regular basis – if you ask people will tell you

Deborah Dalley


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