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If you want to improve your day-to-day work performance, get promoted, change your career or simply feel more fulfilled, take a stab at personal skills development. If you take the right approach, you can learn gradually and have fun doing it without putting a strain on your schedule, says Anna Malczyk of online education company GetSmarter.
“Many people gain a secondary or tertiary qualification and think that their education ends there,” she comments. “However, true success and rapid advancement come from ongoing learning – finding opportunities to gain knowledge, skills and abilities whenever you can.”
Skills development has two facets. The first is learning something completely new, like operating brand-new software, speaking a foreign language or training for a new career. The second is upgrading existing skills – taking an advanced management class, doing a public-speaking refresher or simply learning to use more of the features in Microsoft Word.
Both approaches are essential for a stimulated, engaged and active mind.
Developing your skills can involve anything from reading a few blog articles or attending a half-hour seminar, to travelling abroad or completing a university degree.
Malczyk believes the best way to learn or improve a skill is to find a low-impact, enjoyable and practical training regimen.
For individuals, skills development offers numerous benefits. From a professional perspective, boosting your skills can lead to better pay, more interesting work, quicker promotions or even the ability to strike out on your own or change your career.
On a personal level, it leads to better mental health, more happiness, the ability to explore passions and hobbies, and increased confidence.
All of these factors lead to improved self-worth and a better quality of life.
For organisations, the benefits of increasing employees’ skills are equally important: it’s an excellent way to reduce costs because it’s often easier and more affordable to train an existing staff member in a new skill than to hire a new employee altogether.
A good skills development programme leads to better company culture and motivation – employees feel appreciated, and you’re more likely to retain valuable and ambitious workers.
Business owners and managers should consider skills-development programmes a basic corporate necessity – not a special bonus or perk.
Some quick ways to develop new skills:
lMake a habit out of learning something small every day – subscribe to a daily newsletter with industry news or tips, read a chapter of a For Dummies book or watch a few YouTube videos about your hobby.
lPay for a formal part-time course – nothing motivates you like spending money on your own improvement. Most programmes run after hours and cater to working professionals.
lAttend seminars, workshops and conferences related to your industry; there you can network and learn cutting-edge practices and trends.
lShare skills in the office – does one employee hold really good presentations? Maybe she’s willing to run a few lunchtime seminars on the topic. Is another good at language? Then consider initiating a weekly e-mail with spelling and grammar tips. Most people would be delighted to share their skills with others.
lRead widely – it’s the best way to stimulate the brain or absorb information.
l For more information, visit www.getsmarter.co.za