Cybertactix's Enterprise InfoSec Blog

June 16, 2013

Are You Paying Attention To Your Personal Growth?

Filed under: Certification,Education,Management — cybertactix @ 10:32 PM

Part of my weekly routine is to regularly visit LinkedIn and review the titles of the “Influencer” posts.  Influencer posts are something LinkedIn started late last year, getting both widely known (Richard Branson, Jack Welch) and not so widely known personalities to post short blogs on a either a variety of topics of their own choosing or themes suggested by LinkedIn.  I scan the title of these posts for things that look interesting to me and then use Pocket to mark them for future reading.  On the weekends I will visit the my local Panera (I use a solo trip to Panera as my reading occasion) and run through as many of the posts as I can, usually noting a couple of ideas for follow up or for recommendation to others.

One of the posts that caught my attention this week was “Three Ways To Make Personal Growth Your Top Priority” by Ram Charam.  If you have had a conversation with me about your job it’s likely that the topic of self improvement has come up, one of the things I continually try to hammer home is that companies are no longer engaged in managing your career unless you are one of a select few.  These days it’s difficult for them to justify too big an investment in YOUR career, it is highly likely that you will take that investment to another company in the future.  That means that you are now responsible for managing your own career and a key part of that is ensuring that YOU make sure that your skills and knowledge are continually growing.  If you cannot regularly sit down at the end of the week and list at least one new thing you have learned then you should (IMHO) take a look at your whether you are in a job that is contributing to your career.  In most companies it is no longer enough for you to be able to do the same job, at the same performance level, that you did it last year.  In this economy in order to maintain their bottom line companies need to be either bringing profitable new ideas/products/services into the market place or be more efficient in delivering existing products/services.

The way to stay ahead of the game, and therefore gainfully employed, is to be regularly increasing your contribution to the company’s bottom line or to be of enough value to another company for them to hire you into a similar role, preferably at the same or better overall compensation.  And since your current employer isn’t focused on increasing your value beyond what they need today that means YOU need to take responsibility for your personal growth.    That can mean either a formal program leading to a degree or certification relevant to your field of employment, or an informal program that increases your relevant knowledge and abilities.

Formal programs are the easiest to find but expensive and in recent years many companies have been cutting back on the funds they make available to an individual employee for education.  Free or cheap materials are easy to come by but don’t directly lead to a diploma or certificate but that doesn’t mean you should rule them out.  The lack of a framed piece of paper to hang on your office wall can often be offset by being able to directly demonstrate specific knowledge or learned skills in the workplace.

For manager’s looking to upgrade their ability to work in a corporate environment you would be wise to look at (actually listen to) the Manager Tools podcast series available from www.manager-tools.com.  The number of podcasts available can be daunting when you first visit the site but you can use the drop down category selector to hone in on the podcasts specific to your needs.   In addition to the Manager Tools podcast they also produce a podcast Career Tools, also available on the www.manager-tools.com site, to assist you with personal growth related to your career development.  In terms of general self development take a listen to the original podcast on Self Development (November 11, 2005),  and the podcast on how to Create A Development Plan For Yourself (November 18, 2010)

If you are not the type of person who learns well on their own and prefers to learn as part of a group you may want to check out Peeragogy, a site that stems from the thoughts of Howard Rheingold’s Regents Lecture titled Social Media and Peer Learning: From Mediated Pedagogy to PeeragogyThe site is dedicated to the concept of peer based learning and focuses on how to create a learning construct you can use to learn in conjunction with others who share a common learning interest in order to increase your knowledge and abilities.

If you would like to gain the knowledge associated with an MBA without the expense of an MBA take a look at the personal MBA reading list  http://personalmba.com/best-business-books/, a list of 99 books  which cover the core areas of business associated with an MBA.  Even if you aren’t interested in an MBA many of these books should be in the library of business professionals and this can be done inexpensively thanks to the ability to buy used books via Amazon.

If you plan to pursue an MBA but don’t have the finances and/or the time to complete one following either the traditional program or the executive program consider a university that will allow you to gain credits for the experience you already have via Learning Counts.  Learning Counts allows you to create portfolios based on your work/life experience  which are submitted to an outside evaluator, who will decide on whether they are worthy of credit towards an academic course. 

Given the abundance of tools available for personal development today there is no reason why anyone should not be able to continually grow their knowledge and abilities either personally or professionally, and if you aren’t growing then you should not be expecting your compensation to.  If you aren’t already, it’s time to start thinking about your personal growth and doing something about it.

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