I’m excited to announce that our work at Adopt & Embrace will have a new book out some time in the new year that will be slightly different to our first published book called Microsoft Team: A Manager’s Guide to Communication, Collaboration and Co-ordination with Microsoft Teams. Although it will be a surprise, the focus will be more on applications in the workplace wider than just Microsoft Teams and I had the opportunity to write an entire chapter focussed solely on what I love to write and share about – and that is, the new skills any worker needs in a current workplace – and beyond.
These skills focus on aspects of personal learning that are not only valuable in the workplace but they’re valuable in life. Most of all, they build knowledge and skills so that we can identify opportunities that may be deemed as ‘learning experiences’ at work that can be used beyond your 9 to 5 job and applied for any job, any career, any time of your life.
Now you’ll have to wait until the book is published (I’m quite excited to see it in print and admittedly, seeing your name in print is really amazing) however, I thought I’d share some additional ideas for how you can start to incorporate some learning practices into your work experiences that go beyond just ‘doing your job’ and more about taking a birds-eye view of yourself doing ‘said’ job and what you’re learning about yourself, your team and the wider picture of how you can have more of a wider impact and add more value to others beyond your team.
(1) Accept Responsibility for Your Own Learning
You may believe that your employer is responsible for paying you to attend that course, conference, workshop or event. If they don’t, you don’t even bother with it because you’re a busy person aren’t you? Well, if you’re thinking like this, chances are you may also not believe that learning is critical or important. Flip your thinking. Would you want your employer to ONLY pay for your development and where you get no say in what you want to do and how to do it?
In this day and age, there are a myriad of free resources and learning materials available. Negotiate instead of incorporating some ‘learning time’ into your day-to-day work so that you can take responsibility for your own learning. You’d be far more motivated this way!
(2) Incorporate Some Debrief or Evaluation in Every Project You’re Involved With
Take some time at the end of each project to conduct an evaluation – individual and team – to go through some questions of how you could have improved and what you did differently.
Do NOT start a new project until you have completed this and shared it with your team or organisation.
Your debrief and evaluation should take as much time – if not longer – than your project briefing when you first started your project.
In the past when I was a member of the military, we used an approach where we would debrief experiential learning activities through the following:
- Review all actions, processes, people, outcomes
- Remember the critical incidents: why and how they occurred (we would explore these in depth)
- Identify the impact of these incidents to our overall goals (what happened; why; who was involved; what changed)
- Summarise the lessons learned
- Commit to new actions and behaviours
By conducting a thorough evaluation, this helps you to build the skill of reflection with any project or endeavour you do at work or outside of work.
(3) Create Your Own Personal Learning Network
I’ve written extensively on how to build a Personal Learning Network on this blog as well as have resources that you can download for free or buy. However, I would add here that build your personal learning network of people OUTSIDE your field or endeavour.
Make sure these people are also DIFFERENT to you. That is, not typically the people like you and instead come from different backgrounds, ages, race, cultures. It may be quite surprising to see that your network may consist of people like you and it may be harder initially to extend your network beyond your field or endeavour but trust me, they’ll provide you with completely new insights and perspectives that will have you questioning your own approaches AND seeing opportunities for you to build on your own knowledge. You’ll also be far more attractive to potential employers because you’ll be acting more like a global citizen and not churning out the same ol’ thinking as your peers!
(4) Learn From People Who Love to Learn
That means identifying people in your organisation (and outside it) who are passionate explorers and curious about everything.
They’re usually the ones that have their fingers in many pies and have a wide network; they usually have an interesting life OUTSIDE of work too because they work on different projects, are members of communities and share their knowledge freely and without obligation.
Give a wide berth of people, teams and departments who think that learning needs to be evaluated, measured or controlled – or tell you how it needs to be done; or heavens forbid tell you to “use the learning management system” or lock you into learning ‘their way’ or think that it needs to be incorporated into a ‘system’ such as an enterprise social network or Microsoft Teams.
Seek out people who are intriguing and exciting for you. Learn from them and then do the same.
(5) Learn Something New Every Day and then Share It
No matter how small or how insignificant you think it is, approach it with the excitement of a little kid and then blurt it out to the world through your social networks.
Don’t keep it to yourself. Also don’t expect people to respond to it – nor feel compelled to look at your ‘likes’ or comments. (In fact, don’t worry about these!)
Think like a little kid, blurt it out, feel happy that you have found it and move on. Don’t feel compelled or driven by numbers and at the same time, don’t feel guilty, vulnerable or shy.
You can learn something new for 5 minutes a day so you don’t even have to devote huge amounts of time to it; you just have to DO it.
(6) Create Yourself a Personal Learning Plan for the Week
Don’t know where to start?
Maybe the first thing is to start reflecting on it.
Start with something really simple. I have created a simple plan to just trigger your thinking and get some notes on paper on where to start learning for the week. You can download the resource here.
Of course, don’t be compelled that you need to complete everything on your list. Pick one or two and focus on those.
Oh, and guess what? They DON’T have to be about work. Learn ANYTHING YOU want.
So that’s it. They are just some things you can do to build lifelong learning practices that serve you BEYOND your current work role to build out your own “learning biography” that you can take with you for any job and any career.
Of course, feel free to check out this blog for more ideas and resources.