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Developing New Skills

October 28, 2011

When asked why someone enjoys their job surveys always report, “When I have a challenging job, the autonomy to do the job and when I can learn new and marketable skills.” When force ranked on surveys this question is always in the top three responses.  As a talented professional you are a voracious learner and you want to:

  • be in a job that challenges you
  • develop knowledge that teaches you new skills
  • gain experience that increases your marketability
  • receive feedback, good and bad, about your progress
  • learn from smart people who are above you, at your level, and below you
  • be eligible for developmental or rotational assignments
  • receive as much training as possible.

All of us would love to have a job which fit the challenging job-autonomy-new and marketable skills model, but it doesn’t always happen.  You may have one boss that absolutely follows that model and then, through a normal transition, have a new boss who doesn’t follow the model at all.  In today’s world where your career progress is in your own hands, it is incumbent on you to do as much as you can to keep your skill development moving forward.

Suppose, for example, your former boss was terrific about giving you feedback on your job performance, letting you know immediately when an action you took was incorrect, and making suggestions for future direction.  Let’s assume that your current boss is introverted and seems disinterested in giving you (or anyone else) feedback.  A few suggestions might be:

  • set up a meeting with your new boss specifically to review your progress and ask for feedback
  • go to a mentor who is more senior than you, but not in a formal leadership capacity, to seek feedback
  • ask your human resources represented if he/she has heard feedback that could be of help
  • ask colleagues, who are doing the same work, what they have heard
  • set a plan for yourself that includes new learning and ask for your boss’ approval

What other thoughts do you have that could be added to the list?  What is your plan, going forward, for new skill development?  What is the timeframe and what are the resources you need to implement the plan?

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