Let’s Talk About…Designing Your Personal Development

Q: As a senior manager, I have spent the last couple of years focusing on intensive staff development. However, I now realise that I have neglected myself! What can you recommend?

I recommend opening up the conversation so that you can approach this somewhat strategically! Randomly choosing something that is ‘of interest’ might not be the best approach, for longer-term gain.

Ask the boss. An obvious question: is there anything he or she would like to see you develop?

Ask the industry. Get out and network, if you haven’t already! If you detect one or two people upon whose career you would like to model your own, aim your initial research in their general direction.

Seek broader inspiration. Ireland is a small market – something you see in a US, UK or other LinkedIn profile or job spec, for example, may grab your interest.

Talk to recruiters. Even if you are happy in your current company for the foreseeable future, enquire generally about the skills and qualifications being sought for your area, and level, of employment. What are the must-haves and nice-to-haves? On what points will companies accept experience rather than academic qualification, and vice versa? You may be surprised!

Listen or do? Everything you have been trained on so far, do you actually do it? For example, evidencing real negotiation skills through live practice may be more developmentally useful than ‘learning a new topic in a classroom’. If you need someone to spur you along on this, a period of coaching could be what you require.

Evaluate all of this information together. I can pretty much guarantee that the combined information will be useful, inspiring, frustrating and perhaps a bit illogical, but will guide you well in the end!


This Q&A was first published in Irish Tatler magazine.

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