Personal and professional development is one of the most valuable uses of your time in your career as a manager. It’s only by growing and developing your skills within your current role that you convince others you are worthy of investing in for the future.
So, how much time do you devote to the development of your skills, knowledge and talents? And how regular and consistent are you in carrying it out?
Top managers recognise the need to expand their knowledge about their industry and products regularly. Zig Ziglar says that “Just 15 minutes a day reading books would enable the average reader to complete 15 books each year.”
But there’s so much development material out there, you have to be selective.
First, set aside quality time for this. It’s your career we’re talking about, so it’s worthwhile spending time solely devoted to this important task. A regularly-planned short period is better than leaving it for a large chunk of time once in a while.
Then, be selective in what you choose to read. Determine the areas where you must keep up-to-date, and select only those magazines, journals, books and websites that currently serve your particular areas of need.
When you find an article of interest, especially if it’s in a journal or magazine, take a copy of it or rip it out and put it in your reading file. A fabulous piece buried in a thick magazine will stay buried unless you make a conscious effort to make it more visible.
Consider joining your local Institute of Management library, and taking advantage of the wealth of material available there.
When you’ve spent some time reading, reflect on how you can use this new knowledge in your job and company. Is there something you can immediately apply? Can you share this knowledge with someone else? Is there someone in the organisation who would value this information as much as you?
Spend your commuting time reading or listening to new material that will improve your value to the company. Just 30 minutes listening to a development CD in the car or on your mp3 player on the train each day will give you over 100 hours of learning each year. That’s the equivalent of attending over 14 days’ training each year! Try asking your boss for that much time off to develop your skills! Yet you can easily do it in dead-time on the daily commute.
JJ McCarthy said that an organisation’s continued progress will partly be based on managers’ ability to increase their knowledge and skills and to keep pace with progress and change – through professional literature.
So, lead by example in this. Set the pace for change in your organisation by keeping up to date with reading material that will set you apart from others. Then you will improve your value as a manager, now and in the future.