learning

Question search markAccording to new research by CIPD, almost half of our workforce are currently in roles that do not match their skills. Their whitepaper Over-Skilled and Under-Used is worth downloading. Are you one of them, neglecting to re-calibrate your career?

A reality we don’t often acknowledge is that careers are not for life! How often do you re-calibrate and re-evaluate your career? You might be thinking that changing careers is scary, costly and stressful. So why change career when you could manage your career more proactively instead, and continually assess, reevaluate, refocus your priorities?

The CIPD report reminds us that these dissatisfied workers could end up facing psychological distress, often have low job satisfaction, low motivation, low productivity levels and ultimately are more likely to quit. Recognise any of these in yourself and your current work situation?

Remember that your career doesn’t have to be forever. You might not hate your role, but is it pushing you, stretching you, helping you to learn and grow? There are several key milestones in your career that give you the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate and re-calibrate your career. 

When to re-calibrate your career.

 

1 2 3 years_ med

1 year1 year in.

Ask yourself how is it going? Are you enjoying your new job? Does it match the job description and what you were promised during the hiring process? Or is it different (that could be good or bad!). How are the people you are working with, have you integrated well? Are you using all your skills? If not how could you be using them? Are you learning, developing, expanding your knowledge?

 

2YR2 years in.

With a new job often comes new learning. But two years in, is the learning continuing? How often do you get opportunities for training, or to expand your knowledge base? Are you learning from your colleagues or are you simply sitting back and coasting now?

 

5YR5 years in.

After five years in a job, the classic itchy feet kick in. This is the time when most people have had enough of where they are, and want a major change. Before you get to this crisis point, reassess! What have you accomplished in your five years in the role, and is there more to be done? Are there opportunities for you to gain more responsibility or develop your role? Reassessing gives you a chance to request change, rather than suddenly feeling ‘oops I’ve fallen out of love with my job.’

The key to a happy, successful career is to constantly question and challenge yourself. 

Be aware of changes happening. In the workplace, in the industry, in the job market. Once you are employed we often forget to keep up with change (and can quickly find yourself left behind – which is problematic if you find yourself job hunting again). Are you still current in the marketplace? Are your skills keeping up with the times? Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, you don’t want to get left behind. Plus, self-learning is great for your morale, your knowledge base, your organization and your CV (read more about self-learning to accelerate your career!).

Think outside the office. 

So often I coach people who seem to have forgotten how to network! Even when you’re comfortably employed, never let yourself get too comfortable. Keep trying to build networks outside of your organisation or sector so that you have a real view of what’s going on in the industry and the wider world – not just what you think might be going on. It will also help to raise your profile and ensure you’re in people’s minds for opportunities that otherwise might pass you by.

The key to enjoying your job is to keep questioning it. If there’s an aspect that’s missing, or something you aren’t enjoying, challenge it. If you don’t, you’ll soon find yourself lacking motivation and wanting to leave.

Keep re-calibrating your career!

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brain workoutLearning: the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience or being taught.

As the UK faces a nationwide skills shortage, ask yourself: How often do you do training or learn something new? If you aren’t stretching yourself regularly, are you adding to the problem?

As children we are constantly learning, evolving, developing…but as adults that learning curve seems to tail off. We get wrapped up in our roles, completing daily tasks, meeting targets – that we forget to learn. The consequences? Employees’ skills are becoming outdated and getting left behind as technology advances at a rapid pace.

I have recently been coaching a team of three developers. Each of them has a different approach to learning.

Developer 1 waits to learn from others, complaining when their colleagues are too far ahead and he can’t keep up. Developer 2 has the ability to learn, however feels threatened by Developer 3, who spends hours learning new things in his own time. Developer 3’s approach to work is that he will teach himself what he needs to know, in order to solve the new problems that technology is bringing.

Now, there is no right or wrong approach here. Perhaps Developer 3 has lost sight of a ‘work-life balance’! Or perhaps he loves his job so much, that learning is actually a pleasure for him. Some may call Developer 1 lazy, or say that Developer 2 is jealous. But that’s not the point! Learning shouldn’t stop when we become adults and get sucked up into the world of work. In fact, learning becomes more important than ever (unless you want to find yourself on the job scrap heap).

Learning is key to accelerating your career

Think about the three developers. Which camp do you fall into? Do you wait and complain? Or are you capable but worried about being shown up by someone more confident? Or do you just go for it, and lead the way? Which of those developers is most likely to get a promotion, be given greater responsibility, or retained if redundancies are to be made? Developer 3. The proactive self-learner, who really loves what he does.

A company who is getting learning right: C3 IoT 

This American technology firm offer their employees $1000 for every training course they take. This means that not only can they hire employees with the potential to learn (rather than searching for candidates who tick all the exact requirements), but they also ensure that their employees keep their knowledge up to date. In fact, the desire to self-learn is one of their key requirements when hiring. For the employees – these training bonuses are not just financial, they feel more valued by their employees and appreciate the support given to their own personal and professional development. Read more about C3 IoT in this Case Study.

 What can we learn from this? Learning should never stop

This approach to learning isn’t just limited to the technology industry. It applies to every role, in every industry. Change is so rapid that if you aren’t thinking about the redundancy of your skills or what you are doing, by the time you wake up you’re on the scrap heap! Across the UK companies are restructuring, shifting and evolving ahead of Brexit. Employers will be looking for candidates who are open to adapting, learning new skills and taking on new roles and opportunities. Are you open to a new career opportunity or challenge? Positioning yourself as open-minded and ready to learn will make you a whole lot more attractive to companies managing change.

Finding time to learn

So many of us find it hard to carve out time to learn things that don’t fire us up. The trick to staying relevant in today’s job market is to find something you believe in, something that you’ll love doing, and that ticks several of the criteria you set yourself that your work needs to contain.

While we would love to see all companies embracing the C3 IoT approach and giving their employees financial incentives to learn, that’s not likely to happen. But learning doesn’t need to involve expensive courses or costly resources. So often what we learn is free! It’s available online, in books, by talking to people, asking questions, attending events. All that costs is time and a little effort. And when it comes to learning, time is never wasted.

By doing this, the next time your employer is considering restructuring, you might just find yourself top of the ‘must retain’ list, rather than bottom of the pile. 

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Difficult Conversations? There must be a better wayWelcome to the fourth in our series, highlighting the importance of having a Growth Mindset. Over the past year, our #LeadingLights research project has allowed us to model plenty of aspirational people. And throughout, we have discovered that they all share a common characteristic: a growth mindset. Could this be the secret to their career success? We certainly think so!

We started by looking at the importance of learning from others, then focused on the importance of welcoming feedback in order to improve.  Most recently we wrote about the importance of self-belief and being proud your achievements! This time we look at why continuous improvement is actually one of your most valuable assets…

Growth Attribute No.4: Continuous improvement “Becoming is better then being”

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that you are dealt a hand at birth, and that sticks with you throughout the game of life. But is that right? Absolutely not, says Dr. Carol Dweck. Her research found that those people with a growth mindset had a far greater potential to become successful, than those with a fixed mindset.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” Maya Angelou

The nature of a fixed mindset means those people avoid new challenges, and prefer to stick with what they know in order to avoid any embarrassing failure. On the other hand, those with the growth mindset embrace challenges, seeing them as an opportunity for continuous improvement. Dweck wrote: “When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In the [growth mindset] world  – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.”

As we’ve previously discussed, learning is an invaluable tool that can benefit your health and happiness, consequently having a positive effect on your career. No one is perfect! There are ways that we can all improve, so a crucial part of a growth mindset is being able to identify your own potential. Many of us have perceived fears or barriers which keep us in our comfort zone and prevent us from reaching our full potential.

People with a growth mindset like sports performance coach and #LeadingLight Nigel Hetherington is a great example of this.  He is passionate about “giving everything your best shot”. Give your all, and you will surely get what you deserve!

It’s a continuous improvement mindset which some of us may have, but of course for others it will need to be learned. By encouraging your team to not fear failure and believe in themselves, you will help to instill a growth mindset.  HR Director and #LeadingLight David Frost loves to inspire people to develop.  He expands people’s minds in unusual ways by getting them to work with a Horse Whisperer or an Opera singer!

Patricia Pearce MBE, another of our incredible #LeadingLights singlehandedly raised funds and arranged logistics annually to give children with a bad start in life a trip to Disney World.  Their self-confidence boosted and no longer the odd one out with a disability, some of these children have gone on to become Paralympians. No matter what your age, there is always more to learn, something new to accomplish, someone better to become.

Don’t miss the next in the series; send us an email and we’ll add you to our mailing list so we can give you a nudge when it’s ready

Career Ambitions is dedicated to enabling individuals to achieve their career aspirations and proactively manage their careers.

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Growth mindsetWelcome to the first in our series, highlighting the importance of having a Growth Mindset. In the next few blogs, we’ll share with you how our #LeadingLights research project has allowed us to model plenty of aspirational people. Throughout the project we have discovered that they all share a common characteristic: a growth mindset. Could this be the secret to their success? We certainly think so!

Over the next few weeks, we will take a closer look at the growth attributes that these successful people boast, and discover how they could benefit you and your career…

Growth Attribute No.1: Learning from others

As #LeadingLight and entrepreneur Simon Chaplin rightly said, it’s all about collaboration: “never refer to your team as them – always us”. The difference between those with a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, is that people with a growth mindset are open to learning from others.

“Although bright people aren’t more likely to have growth mindsets, those with growth mindsets tend to become ‘brighter’ over time. Fortunately, we can change our mindset.” Dr. Carol Dweck

You may be highly skilled in one area, but let’s be honest, no ones perfect! Having the ability to look at others and identify the skills that they have that you could benefit from, is priceless. Modelling and learning from others allows you to expand your portfolio of skills. As Howard Gardner writes in his book Extraordinary Minds (1997): ‘exceptional individuals are especially talented at identifying their own strengths and weaknesses’.

What are your weaknesses, and who can you think of who you admire for having those skills? Not only will you end up with a new skill, but you’ll also be making yourself more valuable to your company or employer, as well as adding another tool to your belt!

In a team scenario, it’s important for all members to feel equal and valued. Peer mentoring encourages the barriers to be broken down, putting people on a level playing field.  At work is there a young intern who is amazing with technology? Why not do a skills swap? You could teach them something you know well, such as the art of presenting, and in return get 1-to-1 coaching to bring you up to speed with new technologies. Not only will this be empowering for the younger team member, it will also save money on unnecessary external training and resources. #LeadingLight Jo Cullen (Group Head of Information Systems for Bakkavor Group), stressed the importance of teamwork, pointing out that “nothing is achieved alone” and therefore it’s vital to “respect the team who will help you deliver your vision.”

There has been plenty of research into the benefits of learning recently. Many have found that lifelong learning has a positive effect on health and happiness – with the NHS even suggesting it can help to maintain and improve your mental health (read more here).

So what are you modelling and learn from others around you? Take your eyes off the screen and take a moment to think about friends, family and colleagues who inspire you like our #LeadingLights. It’s a two way street – by stepping into their shoes you learn from them and we are sure you have something to offer them in return.

Don’t miss the next in the series; send us an email and we’ll add you to our mailing list so we can give you a nudge when it’s ready…

Career Ambitions is dedicated to enabling individuals to achieve their career aspirations and proactively manage their careers. 

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