Our general curiosity and desire to learn more about our interests never really goes away. It’s something that stays with us our whole lives and helps us in many ways. Yet with so many competing priorities, especially considering the increased pressure we’re all under right now, it can be challenging to carve out the time to focus on ourselves. But for those organizations with many team members working from home, possibly with some more time on their hands, now is is an excellent opportunity for HR to recommend people invest in personal development. There are many ways to go about this, but I’d like to share a method that’s worked for me called the Personal Development Ecosystem.
The Personal Development Ecosystem consists of three components: enablers, resources, and distractors. I’ll go over all three and provide you real-life examples so you can find practical applications for yourself and your employees. Keep in mind this is not a rigid model that needs to be followed exactly. Instead, think of it as more of a menu of options from which you can pick and choose what best matches your preferences and needs.
Enablers are tools that enhance your ability to be a life-long learner and effectively manage life’s challenges. For me personally, my enablers include clarity, focus, vision, priorities, resilience, meditation, and habits. To help give you a practical example of how enablers are used in day-to-day life I’ll share my go-to process for achieving and using clarity when faced with a task or challenge.
First, in order to achieve clarity my preferred method is meditation – you're probably rolling your eyes right now but stay with me on this. At the most basic level, meditation does two things for me: it greatly enhances my ability to focus and builds a buffer between what is happening around me and the way I respond. This allows me to consider my options rather than reacting based on the automated habits that control 40 percent of our daily activities anyway. Once I’m clear on what is essential, I can create a compelling vision and target the things that matter most. This then influences the priorities I’m setting every day or week.
Keep in mind that everyone's enablers might be slightly or very different, and that’s okay. Think about what your enablers are and how you can activate or achieve them. Try to keep your list between three and nine enablers so it doesn't become unwieldy. Once you’re clear on your enablers, you have a vast variety of resources at your fingertips to nurture and strengthen them.
Next let’s explore the resources that HR teams and the employees they serve can tap into to acquire new knowledge, learn about trends, and expand your mental horizon. The tricky part about resources is that there are so many different options it can become overwhelming.
It’s helpful to start thinking about your personal preferences when it comes to learning – are you a more visual person who'd prefer to watch a video, or do you learn best by reading or hands-on experience? The important part here is to not only take a step back for a moment to recognize what works best for you, but also be open to other options you may not have tried in the past. And don’t forget that resources can take forms other than books, videos, and news articles – having conversations with your peers can be a valuable resource as well.
Lastly, you need to be aware of any distractors that can quickly take you off track. Similar to enablers, your list of potential distractors might look different, but things like ineffective time management, lack of vision, and following the path of least resistance are almost universally applicable.
One distractor that doesn’t get a lot of attention but is worth pointing out is ineffective communication, because it can hinder your ability to reach your goals. Building an effective Personal Development Ecosystem will enable you to better adapt to changing circumstances and find solutions to new problems. However, this is not something done in a vacuum. You also need to be able to share your insights, ideas, and recommendations with the people around you. If you have all the knowledge and the best ideas but struggle to communicate with your boss, stakeholders, and employees effectively, it prevents you from successfully applying what you’ve learned.
Conclusion: Develop yourself and the employees in your organization
Now that you understand the three components of the Personal Development Ecosystem, you can begin to reflect and define your enablers, identify your distractors, and build your personalized learning resource matrix to prepare for whatever comes your way while helping the employees in your organization do the same. If you’d like to get a deeper view into this system, I invite you to join my upcoming webinar with HR Daily Advisor where I’ll explore this topic more fully.
The feeling of growth can take the edge off some of the stress employees may be feeling right now, so it’s a great option for HR professionals trying to provide more resources to help employees cope in this difficult time. Kronos has a wide range of resources on this topic and many others available to you anytime on our Managing Through Times of Uncertainty page. Please feel free to take a look.