DIY Development: The Importance of Personal Development in the Modern Workplace

Good employers know the importance of developing their people. Great employers actually make it happen. Trends show that full-time and part-time employment is rising, but they are rising from a low base. Future of work studies show that in coming years, we will have shorter and shorter ‘careers’ as we try a number of different options out through our working life.

What does this mean? It means that the onus for personal and professional development will most likely fall on the shoulders of the worker rather than the organisation.

Don’t get me wrong, the great organisations will continue to put the time, energy and resources in to development. They will use it as a way to attract the right talent. However, the ability for many organisations to justify the outlay when the return will most likely be realised by another organisation will diminish. For many, that training spend is going to technical skills training or specific management skills rather than personal development.

For the individual, this means that waiting for your employer to recognise your potential and sign you up for the next leadership development program may leave you at the back of the pack. It’s time to take some initiative.

So, what skills will be important to navigate the future of work? Let’s look at a few that can be seen in trends highlighted in the World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs’ study from 2016:

  • Adaptability and Change

The report suggests that while roles in some sectors (mainly office and administrative roles) could be in decline, computer related fields along with architectural and engineering roles will be on the increase. This, coupled with the trend of multiple career changes means that the ability to adapt and change will be key. Beyond this, the ability to help others manage and cope with change effectively will be an even greater asset.

  • Analysis and Insight

Many organisations talk about being ‘customer centric’ as a service principle, forgetting that this was actually born out of a data analytics explosion. They weren’t talking about their staff being more focused on customers at the frontline, they were talking about understanding their customer more fully by gathering as much data about them and looking for ways to use it to enhance the user experience and therefore profitability through streamlining costs, managing inventory and targeted promotions. If you can take a large amount of information and turn it into something meaningful for your team or your organisation, you will be sought after.

  • Commercialisation and Sales

If global expansion and competition continues as it has in recent decades, the ability to link your goals and actions to the needs of an organisation and prove viability of projects and ideas will become increasingly important. This is not just a sales or project function, if we are going to achieve

  • Collaboration and Problem Solving

While collaboration has become somewhat of a buzz-word recently, opportunities exist to find connections through seemingly incongruous areas. 20 years ago, thinking that the internet and a fridge could be one and the same item would have seemed ludicrous. Now, it is soon to become a norm with the ‘Internet of Things’. The next opportunity will come from a potentially unlikely source. Are you ready to recognise it?

All of these skills, practiced effectively, require more than the standard communication or management courses. They require a more holistic approach. They require a foundation of self-awareness and integrity to be able to fully engage with those around you. They require you to focus not just on your technical skills, but your sense of self and your attitudes toward work and living.

They are also the skills you will need to demonstrate to a prospective employer to get ahead of the pack, rather than expecting them to be provided at work. So, what is your plan to build these skills? Who have you spoken to? Who is giving you feedback? What development do you have planned in the next 6 months? Start simple, but focus your efforts on what will pay dividends.

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