How to take a DIY approach to your professional development

Five tips on how to drive a culture of proactive learning

How to take a DIY approach to your professional development

Thanks to technology and the digitisation of learning, current and aspiring leaders have more professional development opportunities than ever before. But how do you ensure they take advantage of what’s available - to both add value to your organisation and be authors of their own career development journey?

HRD spoke to Andrew Fox, global head of leadership development at Mars, and a speaker this December’s Learning & Development Summit Australia & New Zealand, to share his insight on the topic. Fox will join Dianah Ward, Canva’s global head of leadership, learning & development, and Maree Howard, head of global learning at Lendlease to discuss how to enhance leadership development in a hybrid work environment.

First, it’s helpful to identify what’s stopping people taking a proactive approach to professional development. Fox pointed five main barriers that hold employees back.

“Prioritisation is a big one. People get so busy, they don’t carve out time to invest in their own development,” he said. “So you need to make sure they are clear about their next best move and have their eye on that next role. If people aren’t clear about where they are going it’s hard to get energized about the development they need to get there.”

Read more: VICE Media chief people officer: The role of L&D in belonging

Another issue is businesses moving to just-in-time learning. “That’s okay for technical training, but for more strategic areas like leadership skills, that doesn’t encourage people to be proactive and future oriented,” Fox said.

Thirdly, some organisations are overly prescriptive. “Your career journey is all mapped out for you. That can create a culture of dependency. You want to make it easy for people but not so easy that they lose that hunger to be proactive,” he explained.

A fourth obstacle is price, with some training traditionally reserved for senior levels. Last but not least, as we have moved away from the classroom to digital learning, there can be a sense of overwhelm. “It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant – there is so much content out there, you get paralysis of choice,” Fox said.

Blended learning: Best practices in the workplace

Dismantling these barriers requires creating the right environment so people can be proactive in a meaningful way. Fox said a number of pointers to different strategies to get the ball rolling:

  • Harness the power of learning cohorts: Get like-minded line managers together or people from a certain function, maybe from different countries, to give them exposure to others with similar experiences. There is great learning to be tapped into there. They almost self-curate. Their peers will say ‘you should try this, it worked for me’.
  • Professional curation: At Mars, they now have less designers in their learning functions and more professional curators. We have more than enough content, so now it’s about taking all that micro learning and bundling it in a meaningful way, building little pathways and journeys that people can do asynchronously.
  • Use the people you have: Encourage people in the organization to share their learning and be contributors and authors of the material rather than us feeding them
  • Mentoring and coaches: Mentors are the guides, coaches challenge you; they ask the questions to help you find your own way. So having both coaches and mentors is a great way to accelerate learning.

The HRD Learning and Development Summit will take place on December 1, 2021, and will feature insightful keynote sessions, engaging panel discussions and informative case studies focusing on the future of L&D and the new world of work. Click here to find out more.

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