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Four Steps to Develop Your Skills
My wife planned an amazing get away to Ocean City NJ this weekend. We spent two whole days on the beach relaxing and soaking up the sun. It was a sorely needed break from our normal day to day activities with our kids, chores, house and work projects. Lucky for us, on day two we happened to set up our chairs on the beach designated for surfing. We observed class after class of new surfers learning how to surf. The instructors gave direction, then brought their students into the water to practice and apply what they learned. Every time a student caught a wave the instructors enthusiastically cheered them on.
As we watched, I told my wife that I loved watching people learn new skills. That I had a real appreciation for these students as they would fall off the board and then swim back into the surf and keep trying. It reminded me of some research that I had done on having a growth mindset and using the 70/20/10 model to craft a development plan. She reminded me that we were supposed to be on vacation. Fair point. =)
If you're not on vacation and are interested in learning how to craft a solid plan to achieve your development goals (surfing or otherwise) read on! As a bonus I'll include a development goal of my own as an example so you can see the process in action.
In my experience and research, there are four steps to crafting a great development plan to learn a new skill or improve an existing one.
1. Define what success looks like
At the beginning of any learning project the first question I always ask is "What does success look like and how will you know that you've achieved your goals?". This question cuts right to the core of the problem. Deadlines, audience, resources, challenges, etc. none of that matters when answering this question. Starting from where you want to be allows you to work backwards to create a plan to get you there.
What's your goal? Maybe you want a new role, improved emotional intelligence, or enhanced skills with an authoring system. Take a moment to think what success looks like for you in the near or long term and write it down.
Need some more help? Ask yourself the following three questions from Quantum Workplace's list of 25 effective employee review questions.
To keep myself motivated and add something positive to the world at the same time, I'm challenging myself to use twitter to support my favorite charity, DonorsChoose.org. They connect teacher created projects with donors who can choose to fund them, one classroom at a time. With that in mind, here's my lofty social media development goal.
My Example Development Goal: I will enhance my social media skills to gain 1,000 followers (preferably donors) on twitter to help raise awareness of DonorsChoose.org and at the same time overcome my fear of sharing content online.
2. Choose the right mix of activities
Now that you've identified the skills you want to develop, it's time to figure out exactly how you'll do it. A strong development plan includes a mix of formal learning and application activities, plus connecting with experts on the topic. That's why I like using the 70/20/10 model as a guideline for creating my own development plans.
"The model was created in the 1980s by three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership, a nonprofit educational institution in Greensboro, N.C. The three, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, were researching the key developmental experiences of successful managers." Training Industry, The 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development
The 70:20:10 Institute breaks the model down as follows:
Let's simplify this process even further with some sample activities. Here are nine activities you can choose from courtesy of LinkedIn's 50 Activities To Use With The 70-20-10 Model. Note...I do wish the community could land on whether the model is 70/20/10, 70-20-10, or 70:20:10.
Experience, experiment & Reflection:
My example activities:
To achieve my goals I'm going to need some help, the following mix of activities should get me there.
What activities will you select? Maybe some of the sample activities above can help you achieve your goal. If not, there are 50 more just a click away. Don't get hung up setting your activity ratios to exactly 70/20/10. For example, I'd say getting my Masters in Instructional Technology flipped this model. 70 percent was formal learning, 20 percent working with others, and 10 percent from experience and experimentation.
3. Set a timeline and measure your results
There's no point in going through all of the effort of defining success and choosing the right mix of activities to get there if you or your leader aren't going to hold yourself accountable to achieve success. That's why the last step in this process is to set a timeline and measure your results. This can be as simple as setting completion dates for each activity and measurement criteria. Let's go back to my example one last time.
My example timeline & success criteria:
What does your plan look like? Take a few minutes and write down your plan. Commit to a timeline and success criteria.
4. Celebrate successes and learn from your failures
Just like the new surfers I mentioned earlier you will have successes and failures as you work through your plan. Make sure to take the time to celebrate your successes. This can be as simple as a well earned drink to mark a milestone, sharing your wins with family and friends, or taking a moment to sit back and reflect on a job well done.
Take the time to reflect on and learn from your failures. This is how you grow and find what works for you. You can always change your plan if what you're doing isn't working. Maybe you need to revisit the basics or find a mentor to overcome an obstacle.
Do your best to keep a growth mindset and work hard towards your goals. It won't be easy but I know that you can do it.
"Those with a growth mindset are apt to see challenges as a natural part of the learning process. They work harder and smarter, helping them to learn and achieve more than students with a fixed mindset." Writes Courtney Ackerman in her article Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
I'll keep posting about my social media development plan throughout the year. I'm looking forward to learning more about twitter, social media, and hopefully raising some awareness for classrooms in need.
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Engaging people leader and accomplished Instructional Designer with over 15 years of experience creating effective learning solutions and building innovative learning teams.
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