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Tip Sheets

Take Charge of Your Learning at Work

Lifelong learning is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your career. This raises an important question—who’s in charge of your learning at work?

  • Do you constantly try to improve how you do your job or do you expect to be given direction?
  • Do you ask for feedback on your job performance or do you wait for it?
  • Do you choose your own training activities or are they assigned to you?

You’re in the best position to manage your own learning needs, activities and goals, and there are good reasons for doing it. Upgrading your skills and keeping current with changes in your field can help you earn more money, qualify for promotion and be more marketable if you need to look for another job.

Many employers invest in their employee’s training and development. Check regularly with your supervisor or the human resources department in your organization so you’re aware of all the opportunities that may be open to you.

Even if your employer doesn’t offer formal learning opportunities, you can still take advantage of many ways to learn informally on the job. You may also decide to enroll in a course or workshop outside of working hours. Check out the resources at the end of this article for more information.

The Work and Learning Quiz in this article is designed to help you

  • track the learning and development activities you’re involved with
  • assess how effective you are at taking charge of your own learning
  • think about ways to boost your learning, both on the job and outside of working hours

Work and Learning Quiz
Check the best answer for the following statements: Yes No

  • I regularly ask for feedback from my supervisor and customers. _____   _____

  • I regularly describe for my supervisor and customers the kind of feedback that is most useful for me. _____   _____

  • I regularly ask co-workers to observe me and give me feedback. _____   _____

  • I regularly review my own performance. _____   _____

  • I regularly review my performance from my customers’ point of view. _____   _____

  • My learning activities are based on my personal career plann. _____   _____

  • I choose conferences and workshops that reflect my career goals. _____   _____

  • I visit websites and read books and journal articles that support my learning. _____   _____

  • I learn from a network of colleagues in my field who I contact regularly. _____   _____

  • I keep track of my career plan, learning and goals in a personal journal. _____   _____

  • I regularly try new approaches and get involved in projects that require me to grow and learn. _____   _____

  • I have a mentor. _____   _____

  • I write about my field in blogs, websites, newsletters and journals. _____   _____

  • I give presentations and talks about my work. _____   _____

  • I am a mentor. _____   _____

  • I teach others in my field. _____   _____

  • I supervise others. _____   _____

  • I have an annual budget for learning outside of my workplace. _____   _____

  • I set aside a specific amount of time for my own learning activities outside of work. _____   _____

  • I am aware of the many learning opportunities available, from weekend workshops to online credit and non-credit courses. _____   _____

    Total _____

    Scoring Instructions

    Total your “yes” responses to get your score. Compare your score to the table below. Please note that there is no scientific basis to the scoring system—the test is designed to get you thinking about your own learning.

    Score Meaning
    0-5 You may be letting others control your learning.
    6-10 You could enhance your learning by taking more control of it.
    11-15 You manage your own learning well but could use some minor improvement.
    16-20 You are in charge of your own learning.

    By taking advantage of learning opportunities, both formal and informal, you can increase your value as an employee, renew your interest in your work and open up new directions for your career. When you’re in charge of your own learning, you can make sure you’re going in the direction you want.

    Relevant Tips (

    Additional Reading (


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