Invest in Yourself

I had written a piece in “My Ascent” a Times of India Publication, India. It was published as a winning entry in “Voice of HR” in March 2013. The most satisfying moment came when I got a call from an ex-colleague.  He shared that he was inspired by the thoughts I had put forward.  I had suggested in the article that professionals should start investing in themselves, in their own development, through training and coaching.

They should allocate a certain percentage of their time and salary towards their own personal growth whenever they assess the need to acquire new skills & competencies which their organization is not providing them with. My ex-colleague, to improve his chances at an aspirational company and role, taking a cue from my article had enrolled himself into a 6-month program to enhance his knowledge & skills.

Employers & in particular HR heads in most organizations are striving to develop “learning organizations.”  They wish to build leadership pipeline, to create career paths and succession planning.  HR wishes to nurture & groom talent to take on new challenges and growth plans.  However, there seems to be a disconnect as most professionals at mid to senior level do not seem to get these opportunities in the form of training, mentoring or coaching at the workplace.  To be fair very few large companies today have plans in this area and execute it well.

Even in these large organizations, the coverage is not high and inconsistent.  However, there is significant no. of firms that do not create definitive plans and yet whine the fact that their employees are not smart enough to manage market challenges.

It leaves me wondering where the problem is or challenge is in marrying these objectives – people and organization development.  In my view, the answer would lie in responses to following questions, by professionals who have had minimum 15 years of work experience.

  • How many and which organization really prepared us well to take on new roles & invested in the training of skills, learnings, and knowledge?
  • Which organizations supported with help in the form of training (mentors, coaches) when one was asked to take on new challenges which demanded stretch, exploration & learning new behavioral competencies?
  • When choosing a new job, does one specifically check on how the organization helps employees grow their learning’s and development of skills and competencies?

Please do not be surprised by your own responses to these questions. Do not feel discouraged too. Perhaps ask yourself something you have not yet asked yourself. Ask these questions:

  • What does one need to do about professional growth in next 3-5 years to be in an aspirational role and/or company? Does this “need to do list” account for new and better skills and competencies?
  • Are you thinking or planning to invest in ourselves in the absence of investment from our employers?
  • Have I identified the areas in which I should be improving my skills to be more successful in future?

Laurence J. Peter once said — Everyone rises to their level of incompetence.  The challenge, therefore, is to rise & improve further.  Train yourself to reduce incompetence, and climb higher. Learn the difference between skills and competencies. If the company does not support in learning and you also do not invest in yourself to learn new skills as well in building new skills and competencies, one can be consigned to a level and role which may outgrow importance and criticalness.  The professional you may get left stranded in a career much lower.

So go out and invest in yourself. Do not wait for your employer.

Train yourself. Learn more.  Invest time & money on yourself.

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