An investment in knowledge pays the best returns – Benjamin Franklin.
As a past learning and development manager I have a particular passion for the importance of continuous learning and believe the quote above says it best.
Think about it, how many companies are considered financially successful, but anyone in the know will tell you that the company does not develop its employees. What does that say about the company? How do you respond to this? Is that company not similar to an individual successfully investing, and making, money but never spending any of it on their own personal development? It is easy for us to criticize but maybe our first response would be to look at whether we are developing ourselves.
The exciting thing about this is that the advent of digital communication has provided us with an enormous mix of channels to receive training. No more do we have to sit through boring presentations, write an exam or study for four years to start building expertise in any number of topics. Now the thought leaders are within reach and we, as learners, have access to a variety of platforms and perspectives around their chosen topics. Continuous self-improvement is now, more than ever, easier and mandatory as everyone has more access to a once limited resource.
The only restriction is the amount of time and money that you would like to invest in your future. In order to help you make the best choice I have compiled a few pointers on choosing the right initiatives to support your journey of continuous improvement. Remember you can use this to evaluate all of the initiatives you are interested in. Continuous improvement is not about doing a one day course once a year.
Tips for choosing a tool to support your continuous improvement:
- Communication channels are important as they keep the course interesting. Ensure that there is a mix of how the content is communicated. Some of these channels could include webinars or video calls, podcasts or recorded content, manuals or training notes.
- Make sure that there is enough overlap between your learning style and the channels used in the training. Whether you are an auditory, visual, social or any other form of learner, always ensure that the course is well suited to your preferred ways of learning.
- Make sure that the content is stretched over a period of time. In order to really absorb the content it is often best to learn a few details and practice them before moving onto the next lesson. This modular approach also facilitates using the training as reference material.
- Social learning is important. Learning from others, whether commenting on a blog or sharing learnings on Facebook groups or even being on a shared WhatsApp group, there should be more than one voice. Ensure that you have an opportunity to soundboard with others or have access to questions other individuals have asked.
- Be sure that you have a firm grasp on your training requirements. While training is always valuable, it can get a bit pricey so be sure that you attend the right training for the right reasons. Also, be sure to see where you can leverage training that will count towards CPD points. That way you not only be developing yourself but will be doing it in alignment with the relevant professional bodies.
- Learn from a credible and listen-worthy facilitator. Before choosing training do check out the facilitator(s). Be sure you understand their background and their credentials. You want to be sure they are worth listening to and will have a lot of knowledge and experience to share.
I hope that the list assists you on making some great selections to start, or continue, you on your development journey. Please feel free to reach out and let me know if you have other pointers on how to choose personal development initiatives. I can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on LinkedIn.
For small business owners one such source of training is the Business Solutions Simplified course which is presented by Noble Group’s founder Renate Jute.