Areas of Professional Development at Work
We’re constantly looking to better ourselves, whether that be professionally or personally. We look for new skills, new strengths, new opportunities every day. Which is why professional development at work has become such an important part of a job. Employees are constantly looking to grow and upskill themselves to get to the next level. This growth and development can lead to greater success at work, improvements in performance, and often too an increased network of like-minded individuals that we’ve made good relationships with.
What does ‘key areas of development’ really mean?
When we speak about key areas of development at work, we mean the key skills and traits that can be developed in order to benefit your work life. We might do this as a way to achieve our short- and long-term goals that we set in a personal development plan. Or, one of our key areas of development might actually be to become more successful in goal setting. These, as with any development strategies, shouldn’t be solely left down to you to master; managers, senior leaders, and colleagues can all assist in these key areas of development in the workplace.
What are the areas of professional development at work?
There are, of course, an endless list of potential areas of professional development at work. These areas are totally unique to you, and the best way of finding these areas is through self-assessment. However, there are some core areas we think are key to development that might apply to a larger proportion of individuals. These include:
Ability to adapt to change
Management & leadership
How can we try and develop these skills?
It’s all very well listing examples of areas of development we think are key to successful individual growth. But let’s help a little more with some tips for achieving development in these areas.
Communication skills at work, and in life, are vital in progressing and developing. It’s the basis of a lot of workplace activities – presentations, teamwork and collaboration, client contact, networking. But communication styles differ from individual to individual. So how can we develop these communication skills?
Learn about the different communication styles, and which works best for you.
Network with new colleagues and attend more events to get used to speaking to new people.
Focus on making eye-contact and present yourself in a confident manner (even if you’re not feeling it!).
Keep your audience in mind. Who you’re talking to is going to affect your communication style. For example, you might communicate in a more formal manner with clients or senior stakeholders versus when you’re in internal team meetings.
Ask for feedback, from teams, management, or even clients.
Teamwork makes the dream work, right? Then, having collaborative teamwork skills is vital. Develop these skills by attending group activities, asking for feedback from team members to encourage discussion, propose team-building days, and engaging in meetings.
Setting goals can seriously improve your performance, productivity, efficiency, and overall drive. Developing your skills in goal setting can really impact your development as a whole. Try these tips to develop your goal setting skills:
Break your goals down into digestible chunks; there’s nothing worse than a daunting goal that you have no motivation to achieve!
Write your goals down – we have our own goal setting template that you can use to get them down on paper.
Get someone else involved to help you with your goals and keep you accountable to them – that could be a coach, a mentor, or your manager.
Active listening means going past just hearing someone’s words. It’s more about trying to understand them in order to brainstorm your own feedback. So, to try and develop your active listening skills, take time to digest what an individual is talking about, think about how you might be able to give feedback to them or ask questions to delve into a discussion. Equally, when listening to someone, give your full attention; avoid answering emails or doing a bit of work on the side.
Ability to adapt to change
Change at work is inevitable, so building your skills to deal with it is important. Our top tip in becoming better prepared for change is to focus on the outcome. A lot of the time, you won’t be able to prevent this change, so learn to think about what is next; what is the outcome of this change and how can we benefit from it. Once you start thinking this way, it’ll soon become second nature and you’ll be ready for anything.
It might sound simple, but organizational skills can get you far in your career. When you’re organized, it can often translate into far greater productivity, which is key to your work development. People also start to trust you, leading to more responsibility and more autonomy, a personal development in itself!
We recommend taking time out of your day to organize your tasks and organize your calendar. That way, you’ve set a good basis to start working with. Make sure you keep your workspace clean and clear and try to make lists for everyday tasks. Don’t forget to reward yourself – perhaps think about scheduling periods for 1 hour of work and then taking 20 minutes to break.
Management & Leadership
If you’re looking to progress into more senior roles in the workplace, you’ll need to develop leadership skills. We recommend:
Building your self-confidence by getting involved in situations outside of your comfort zone.
Learning about project management, either through resources or with a mentor.
Invest in a leadership coach to help foster and develop these skills with you.
Look out for opportunities! This might be getting involved in a smaller project you can lead on, learning to delegate work where necessary, or asking to shadow a more senior member of the team.
To be productive, we recommend getting into a solid routine and planning your days. Wake up and grab a coffee. Aim to be at your desk 5-10 minutes before work starts. Write out a list of tasks that need to be done and feel the satisfaction of ticking them off throughout the day. Plan to take breaks too!
Being innovative in a company can bring new ideas and help business-wide development. To help your development we recommend trying to build your confidence in these creative and innovative skills, simply by contributing, taking ideas to your manager, and being open with your feedback.