Personal development is the process of improving your skills and increasing the amount of experience that you have in your job (of course, depending on your personal development definition, it can also be something you focus on outside of work, but for the purpose of this blog post, we’re looking at it through a professional lens).
Self-improvement is something highly valued by employees, with many placing it above salary as the most important factor in their careers. In addition to developing your potential, investing in your personal development can increase employability, improve quality of life, and lead to the realisation of your aspirations.
When it comes to personal development, you’re in the driver’s seat. Personal development goals are objectives you set to improve your character, skills, and capabilities. Below are just some of the elements you might decide to focus on in your professional life.
Being able to communicate effectively is an essential skill in any working environment, helping you to effectively influence others, build relationships, and manage conflicts. Good communication skills also help you to provide constructive feedback to colleagues.
If you find yourself constantly procrastinating or running out of hours in the day, time management is a goal worth including in your personal development plan for work. As well as helping you to clarify your goals and objectives and prioritise them accordingly, you’ll also get better at saying no (never a bad thing when it comes to productivity).
You might be great at communicating face-to-face, but on the phone you find yourself stumbling. Facial expressions and body language count for a lot when it comes to communication, and sometimes it can be hard to create a positive first impression without being directly in front of someone. Working on your telephone skills will help you to analyse your own phone manner, screen calls, and take messages with ease.
The key to better working relationships is knowing how to work collaboratively. Learning team working skills will ensure you play your part in a positive, motivated team that is working together to achieve the same goal. Even better? It’ll give you a chance to improve your leadership and communication skills too.
Anyone who works in a customer-facing role will no doubt have encountered a challenging or stressful situation at some point in their career. Prioritising effective customer service as one of your personal development skills will help you to resolve these scenarios quickly while helping you to gain the confidence to reach a positive resolution that will keep customers happy.
Even if you’re working in your dream job, it’s very rare that you won’t get stressed from time to time. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can manage and reduce it. Learning some of the practical exercises to improve your coping strategies is a great starting point — something that will not only build resilience but help you to recognise your own personal stresses, too.
Sometimes it can be difficult to make your voice heard, particularly in larger teams or corporate environments. By working on your assertiveness, you’ll learn how to communicate messages confidently to your team. Being assertive and persuasive often come hand in hand, so learn this skill and you may just find you come across fewer difficult people and situations…
By understanding the triggers of conflict and how reactions can resolve or provoke a situation, you can minimise both the damage to relationships and the loss of productivity in the workplace. Learning conflict resolution skills will also help you to improve your emotional intelligence.
A major component of personal development is learning. Whatever your personal development objectives, by committing yourself to work on them, you are committing yourself to learn a new set of skills, and expanding your knowledge around a particular area. In the process of setting these goals, you’ll also learn more about yourself and others around you.
By looking at your performance at work and your desires to progress, you can create more of a vision of where you want to be in the future (and by when). Like your personal development goals, your vision should follow the STAR method: specific, measurable, actionable, and realistic. If you’re a visual learner, you might find something like a vision board useful to map out your goals. Plus, it’s fun to create!
No vision is achievable without a clear plan. The next step is to write a list of your goals and decide how you’re going to achieve each one. Divide them into small, manageable steps, and be willing to change your approach as you figure out your learning style.
You’ll never know how far you’ve come in your goals unless you document the changes you make and the effects they have on your career. Recording your progress can be as easy as writing notes in a journal. Alternatively, you can use software tools like The Habit Factor — an app that helps you to track your goals and keep up with your progress. Whatever way you choose to do it, the key is to make regular updates.
Like everything, our personal development goals change, which is why it’s important to return to your plan regularly and decide whether it’s still worthwhile. This process may also help you to decide whether to include new goals, tweak your existing ones, or adjust your timelines.
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by Emma Gibbins | 22 Feb 21
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