Article: How to design your personal development agenda

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How to design your personal development agenda

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How should an individual design a personal development agenda that encourages continuous learning?
How to design your personal development agenda

The onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought with itself a peculiar and unique challenge: the need to continuously build skills in the age of automation. 

This challenge has prompted employers to implement extensive reskilling programs and adopt innovative learning interventions. But, how does an individual go about future-proofing their career? Continuous learning is becoming an indispensable component in the preparation of the future of work.

Prof. Bernd Vogel, Professor in Leadership at Henley Business School, United Kingdom and Faculty at FLAME Centre for Executive Education (FCEE) shares his tips on how leaders and professionals can design a personal development agenda of their own and take charge of future-proofing their careers. 

Identify what learner type you are

Diverse learning styles and methods have varied results with different types of learners. The first step, then is to identify what is your style of learning. 

According to the popular VARK model, learners can be classified as visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic learners. Each type of learner responds to different learning method; for instance, visual learners prefer to visualize information and ideas, auditory learners will prefer listening, reading/writing learners prefer text-based learning by either reading or writing it and kinaesthetic learners are experiential learners who prefer hands-on, practical learning. Similarly, find out if you prefer learning alone or in a group. Identifying your learning type is critical to choose the right medium and methodology for learning. 

Design a ‘future-focused’ strengths and gaps map 

The next step is to undertake a thorough assessment of your existing skills and identify your current strengths, weaknesses and opportunity areas. Prioritize the skills according to the urgency with which you need to master and set timelines for the same. Thus, segregate your learning goals into the skills you need to immediately deliver, the skills you require to progress in your current role and those that are necessary to stay relevant in the near future. Make sure you involve your colleagues, managers, mentors and peers in this process as they will be able to add value to your learning journey with new, objective and industry-relevant perspectives and insights. Lastly, do not become fixated on your current role and profile while doing this exercise; be prepared for the eventuality that your role might change substantially. 

Integrate micro-learning goals with weekly routines and rituals

It can be challenging for professionals to seamlessly manage their workload, personal goals and social commitments with a rigorous learning schedule. Finding the time and energy after a long day of work for a class or reading might be difficult, particularly if there is no accountability to an external entity. Learning goals should be broken down into several shorter goals that can be integrated into weekly routines. Studies and experts () agree that micro-learning is more effective than traditional forms of learning. 

Since course modules are usually spread over several weeks, you have the freedom to learn at your own pace and convenience. To ensure consistent progress, allocate a fixed day in the week for learning, reading and undertaking tests and assessments. Prepare a dedicated learning schedule, respect self-determined deadlines and celebrate your accomplishments. 

Put your personal development agenda to test

There has long been a consensus on the fact that collective learning is beneficial, especially in a workplace. Once your personal development agenda and goals have been created, run it through your mentors and peers to improve the same. Ask them to suggest improvements and discuss the challenges that they encountered while developing their own skills. Implement your learning schedule for a month to understand how easy or difficult your goals are and what changes need to be made in the same. 

Your peers and mentors, both inside and outside your organization, will play a crucial role as you test your newly-learned skills and knowledge.  Based on what you find, make changes to your learning approach, schedule time and use tools before committing to your learning agenda. Take time to understand how you can cultivate a community of learners in your workplace. 

As we step into the future of work, it is clear that those who commit to lifelong learning will have a clear edge over others. Thus, the key to building an effective personal development agenda,  is to identify the right learning tools and approach, set realistic goals, following a consistent and dedicated learning schedule and continually improving it to accommodate new learning objectives.


This article is based on a course offered by FLAME University on transformational leadership. For more information about the course, click here.

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Topics: Strategic HR, #FutureReadyHR

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