Seek feedback from others
Find out how others (whose opinions you value) view your work. They might be peers or managers other than your line manager in the organization. People are more likely to give you useful feedback if you ask them specific questions – perhaps about a particular piece of work or event. Decide on 2 or 3 questions such as “what went well?” and “what might I do differently?” and ask for some examples to support their view. Don’t be defensive if their feedback is a surprise and thank them for letting you know. Decide afterwards what you can learn from this and what action you might need to take as a result.
Reflect on your day
Get into the habit of reflecting on how things have gone at the end of the day. Ask yourself some questions such as: What have I learnt today? How well did I work with others? How did I contribute at a meeting? How did others? How might I approach an activity if asked to do it again? What would I do differently next time?
Observe the practice and behaviour of others
Who do you admire in your organization? Who manages their team, their time and themselves well? Observe how they manage in as many situations as possible and consider what you might learn.
You can also learn much from those whose management practice you don’t admire. They can offer great lessons in “what not to do”.
Look for internal opportunities for development
When you’ve been in a job for some time, it’s easy to get used to doing what you do. Although you may perform well, your work is no longer stretching. Discuss with your manager how you might take on new (or more challenging work) to develop new knowledge and skills and give you experience of new areas of work.
Look for external opportunities for development
Could you be a trustee or volunteer for another organization? What causes interest you? Investigate possible opportunities to share your skills, knowledge and experience with another organization.
Where do you hope to go next?
Think about what role you’d like to do next. Even though you may have no intention of leaving your current position at the moment, it’s useful to keep an eye on vacancies (internal and external). When a post is of interest, have a look at the person specification and assess your current knowledge, skills and experience against it. What areas might you need to address? Seek to fill those gaps so that you have evidence to support a strong application when you decide its time to move on.
You might decide to formalize what you discover by recording it in a Personal Development Plan.
However you record your findings, ensure that you:
- prioritise your development needs. What is most urgent?
- be specific about how and when you will go about addressing any identified gap
- think about who needs to know. You might want to share it with your manager so that you can plan together how to address any skills gaps
- keep learning!