As a Learning & Development professional, we are so busy working on professional development for our colleagues that we often neglect investing in ourselves. We know that it’s important, but what type of knowledge investment should we make? What investment pays the highest “knowledge interest?” Two types of knowledge investment come to mind.
One knowledge investment is to hone skills on the newest advancements within your industry through targeted instruction via well-designed courses. Learning about the right application of microlearning, or the proper use of game elements for learning is incredibly important and can be learned effectively and efficiently through a structured approach. Having easy access to rich, well-designed content in these areas and others can be critically important for major initiatives and undertakings within your organization. This curated, designed and effectively delivered approach is like going back to college to learn core ideas and concepts that are being implemented within organizations today.
Active Exchange of Ideas, Concepts and Techniques
Another type of investment is the active exchange of ideas, concepts and techniques with mentors and peers who have been through or are going through the same or similar experiences. Connecting with other learning & development professionals is a valuable knowledge investment that helps sharpen existing skills, allows us to develop new competencies, and intelligently apply what we learn and know. Having a mentor and peer network to ask questions, freely exchange ideas and experience, explore concepts together, and discuss different approaches is equally, if not more important than targeted instruction. Whether exploring the latest technological trends, instructional design approaches, and research studies to help you determine the best L&D approaches, having the opportunity to participate in a lively forum where you can ask and answer questions, and learn from best practices is invaluable.
I want it All – The Best of Both Worlds
By combining both approaches to learning and growing, we can be as well rounded as possible. A combination of courses and attending a learning & development related conference could be a short term solution, but a long term strategy that allows the opportunity to share knowledge and make connections over time, may make the most sense. What does that look like? One option is to participate in a year-long mentoring program such as the Learning & Development Mentor Academy hosted by Dr. Karl Kapp. If you’ve ever wanted to be mentored by an experienced professional while sharing ideas, concepts and concerns with peers, then this type of long term investment in professional development makes sense. It maximizes the benefits of both targeted instruction, and active exchange of ideas, concepts and techniques, is less expensive than attending a conference with better long term returns. This type of program provides both access to formal, on-demand courses, access to mentoring, and a peer network with a policy of open and honest exchanges about what works in learning & development and what doesn’t. Because participation is over the course of a year, it allows for building stronger network connections, the opportunity to dig into a variety of relevant topics over time, allowing professionals to gain insights into what others are doing in different industries, learn from peers, and share best practices. Monthly facilitated sessions on a variety of topics allow learning & development professionals to keep up-to-date on the latest trends as they are happening.
Ultimately we each need a strategy that works for us. Regardless of the strategy we use, it needs to happen to ensure that we sharpen existing skills, develop new competencies, and continue to add value in our roles.