There are various ways in which you can improve your skills and increase your knowledge in order to bridge the gaps and meet your career development goals. Here we run through some of the more popular learning and development techniques which might be at your disposal.
There are a huge variety of training solutions on offer; this may be an in-house course, external seminar, professional qualification, on the job training, or, increasingly, a tailored or even 1:1 training session designed by your training department. Training works best if you have clearly defined training needs and goals for what you want to learn, and the training course is selected or designed to meet those needs as closely as possible. A scattergun approach to training – ie going on as many courses as you can, relevant or not, to make your CV look better – won’t actually work.
A secondment is when you temporarily transfer to another department or division, or, sometimes, when your employer loans you to another organisation, to perform a specific role. Secondments vary in length, but typically would last for a few months. A secondment is a valuable opportunity to gain exposure to different experiences and facets of your organisation, and many employers recognise this with policies on secondments.
Variations on this type of development opportunity are work shadowing, where you are following and observing rather than fully participating in a role. Also be on the lookout for opportunities to develop your skills by offering to cover for colleagues who are absent, on holiday, or on leave – for example “acting up” into the more senior role of a colleague on maternity leave for a few months gives you an excellent chance to perform at a higher level and learn on the job.
You will find plenty of information within this site about the development benefits of coaching – take a look at the section on executive coaching. Mentoring is a relationship with a more senior and experienced colleague (not usually a line manager) who provides regular guidance, support and encouragement. The mentor is something of a role model, and a rapport often develops between mentor and mentee. The benefits of mentoring for the mentee can include improved self-confidence, broadened experience, and increased motivation and aspirations.
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