We recommend you think development all the time. Constantly.
You should be talking to yourself about development all the time!
While the actions are constant, we’d suggest that a formal review four times a year is a nice rhythm, and looks like this – (and adjust the months to align with your business planning cycles and the way you plan your life)
- January – start the year with a thoughtful look at what was in the previous year, and what you want to get out of the first six months of the new year. Plan the year to be a great one!
- April – check whether the development you planned actually happened. If it did, move on to the next things on the list. If it didn’t start prioritising. Clearly development has fallen off the list somewhere.
- July – as the financial year and plans are being completed, most businesses complete a new strategy, and you have a chance to align your plans to the new plans of the business. How do you fit in and how can you grow as the business grows? What skills are they looking for now and in the future and how do you get them? Plus, you get to check-in and keep yourself honest about actioning the plans you made. And if its on track, you get to add the next three things.
- October – Once business results are released, you can see whether you’re in a great place and aligned to the business and its plans. You can check what you’d planned to happen, happened, and you can move to the next short set of priorities to ensure you finish the year having learnt at least 12 new things over the year. You can ensure you’re starting the new year in better shape (more skills, more experience, more value) than you had in January.
So, that’s the approach as you own your Development Plan. Lets also look quickly at how often you talk about Development to other people.
Within a business though, you won’t want be considered too high maintenance, so you can’t be talking “me and my development” every day. Instead, try and weave it with other normal processes. When you catch up monthly with your manager, add a small development discussion in. Not requests all the time, but flagging things you’re learning or keen to learn or experience. Make it part of work.
More formally, you have to read this carefully. Good leaders, would be expecting a conversation on your development at least every six months. That’s a reasonable expectation. Quarterly is better and aligns to your own management of your Development, but half yearly can work too. As long as its on the agenda. Of course, its even more important if you need the business to support formal development.
To approach a formal discussion on the sponsorship of development, you’re really talking about development being part of the job, and part of your expectations. This either needs to be clear before starting or it needs to ‘sold’ in as valuable to both the business and you personally. In big businesses, they’ve have policies. In smaller ones, they’ll consider it part of the cost of you. Either way, your manager supporting you is where it starts. Go into selling mode. Start with a soft sell to test receptivity, and then progress. There’s a section on negotiation in mwah. that might be really helpful, and it will show you how to approach the negotiation and hopefully, how to get the support (financial and day-to-day) that you need to be successful in external training.
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