January has nearly come and gone. It’s hard to believe. Just this week my chiropractor reminded me that 2015 is about 1/12 over. It seems like only yesterday I was gearing up for the hustle and bustle of the holidays: decorations, cards, presents, baking, parties and the like.
And then New Year’s Eve passed us by in the blink of any eye, too. In fact, my friends and I caught the official countdown on TV just moments before midnight. I suppose that’s a testament to the good food, good conversation and good company.
But the twinkling lights and the glittery decorations are now safely packed away for another year. As I drive down the icy, snow-lined streets, dotted with discarded Christmas trees, it seems that the magic is indeed gone – at least temporarily.
As always, I spent some down time over the holidays contemplating my 2015 resolutions. Getting fit tops my list again this year (though my motivation is challenged by the early sunsets and the freezing temperatures), in addition to reconnecting with friends and family.
Also on my mind is the professional development of both my staff and me. I had the opportunity to participate in ATD’s Master Instructional Designer Program in December and I’ve already gained a new client as a result of that experience.
While goal setting often occurs during an annual performance appraisal, the start of a new calendar year also lends itself to reevaluating learning plans for the development of skills, competencies and content expertise. Otherwise, time passes (quickly) and you discover that little has been accomplished or achieved.
At Event Garde, in addition to professional development plans specific to each team member (focused on anything from CMP preparation to enhanced writing skills), we are committed to attending at least one webinar a month focused on the latest industry trends and research.
To determine what should comprise a learning plan for you or your team, consider the following three-step approach:
- Organizational Analysis
- What do we want to achieve as an organization?
- Performance Analysis
- How does individual performance tie in?
- What are the required performance levels for key tasks and competencies?
- What are the required knowledge and skills to be successful?
- What performance gaps exist?
- Learning Needs and Evaluation
- What training and possible alternatives will best support learners?
- How will we know if our learning is effective?
Examples of specific activities that might support these learning plans include mentoring, networking, training, education and project exploration. As always, establishing anticipated outcomes and target dates lends credibility and urgency to the process.
Following each learning activity, encourage the staff to identify key takeaways and how it will implement them on the job. Additionally, set aside time during staff meetings for the team to share its experiences for all to benefit. If appropriate, record highlights either digitally or physically for all to see and reference.
No matter where you start, be sure to take a fresh look this month at how both you and your team will learn and grow in the New Year. Don’t let another month pass you by without identifying learning needs and then establishing a plan to tackle them head-on.