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Always Strive for the Gold In Your Professional Career

Categories: Professional Development

The Winter Olympics are now over, and the athletes have all returned to their respective countries. Does that mean their pursuit of excellence has ended?

With the exception of those who may have decided to retire after these Olympics, absolutely not!

What are the parallels between Olympians' pursuit of gold medals with professional development?

When a training program is done, the participants pack up their handouts and the presenter puts away his or her laptop, but the learning is not over. 

What can individuals do to ensure that the time they invested in participating in training or coaching pays off?

Create an action plan for success.

Here are 5 tips to ensure that you maximize your professional development opportunities (whether it is training, coaching, or a performance review:

  1. Find the two to three points in the training/coaching program (or your job review) that really resonated -- things you know you need to work on. Note this on a "sticky" note and put them somewhere prominently in your work area. For example: "I need to improve my listening skills."
  2. Ask a trusted advocate, mentor or colleague for his or her honest, candid feedback regarding the points you identified -- and any insights they can provide into how you can improve in this area.
  3. About one week after the training program or coaching project has ended, schedule a meeting with your manager -- to discuss the areas of personal opportunity that you have identified, and his or her specific suggestions on where you need improvement. For example, "When do you believe I am not effectively listening to others? Team meetings? During one-on-one conversations?" And, of course, ask for their suggestions to improve.
  4. With the information in hand from your manager and trusted colleague, mentor or advocate, work to improve in these areas. -- you can read books and articles online about the topic (effective listening, for example). Consider taking any available online assessments to help change your identified area of improvement -- for example, listening style and behaviors.
  5. Three months after the training program, schedule another meeting with your manager to assess your progress -- and create a new action plan, as needed, to move forward on future development areas.

If you follow these five steps to be accountable for your own development and growth, you will not only impress your manager and colleagues, you're bound to notice a renewed personal commitment to excellence and career success ... which is sure to reap rewards in terms of accolades, improved sales, and promotions.

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