Change is constant in today’s workplace. To keep up, you need to keep learning.
When you want to improve your work-related knowledge and skills, you’re more likely to:
- Enjoy your work
- Improve your performance
- Be invited to take part in rewarding projects
- Earn a raise or even a promotion
Ongoing learning also makes it easier to land your next job, if you ever need or want one.
Think about the skills and knowledge you need to stay current now and prepare for the future. Then use the following tips to increase your effectiveness as you learn for work.
Plan your learning with your career path in mind
When you can see how your learning fits into the bigger picture of your life and work—your career path—you’ll be a more motivated, more effective learner. Career planning is the ongoing process of shaping your career path, based on your skills, experiences, interests, and preferences. The process can help you make good decisions and take positive steps at all stages of your life.
Identify what you need to learn in a short period of time
In the near future, learning can help you meet an immediate need, like mastering a new computer program or updating a technical skill. Here are some suggestions:
- Check your most recent performance review, ask your supervisor, or talk with a more experienced co-worker about skills that may need upgrading.
- Think about a typical workday and identify any tasks you may be avoiding or struggling with because of knowledge or skills you don’t have (for example, preparing and giving presentations).
- If your responsibilities have increased over time, ask yourself if you have the training to be effective in your new tasks (for example, to supervise or train others).
- Take advantage of any short-term training opportunities your employer or other organizations offer (for example, training to use new equipment).
Identify what you want to learn over time
Build skills and knowledge that support your future goals:
- Develop new skills that will be useful beyond your current position. For example, if you’re interested in management and have an excellent supervisor, pay attention to your supervisor’s skill set and begin learning or improving those skills.
- Volunteer for projects that challenge you to learn new things or work with new people. You’ll not only improve your employability and networking skills, but also gain valuable information about your organization.
- Talk with your mentor about learning goals that will help you advance your career. If you don’t have a mentor, consider finding one.
These suggestions will help increase your value to your employer or help you get a promotion.
Adapt to a changing future
If you can anticipate the changes that may affect your workplace and industry, you can plan your learning to help you adapt to change. Prepare and watch for change by staying in touch with the labour market. You can do this by talking to others in your workplace, following industry leaders, exploring labour market information online, and attending related events.
Understand your learning style
Are you a hands-on learner? Do you learn best on your own or in a group setting? Recall the learning activities that worked well for you in the past. When the learning fits your style, it’s more enjoyable and more productive. If you have a choice, pick the opportunities that suit your learning style. For example, if your learning style is kinesthetic (learning by doing), you could take a hands-on workshop. If your learning style is visual, you could take a video-based course.
Find out about learning options
There’s a wide range of choices about where, when, and how to learn, from one-to-one sessions with a co-worker to online degree programs. Check with human resources or your supervisor to find out about the training options and support your organization offers. Many people find that part-time online learning is a good fit, allowing them to pursue their learning goals while they continue working.
Develop learning skills
If you haven’t been in a formal learning environment for a while, your learning skills may be rusty. Learning skills can be learned!
Learning for work will be more enjoyable and easier when you improve any of the following skills:
- Time management
Plan ahead so you learn smaller amounts of information in appropriate amounts of time. That way you’ll absorb what you’re learning and avoid the frustration of trying to learn too much in too short a time.
Make and follow a learning plan
When you’ve identified your learning needs and explored your options, create an action plan to ensure that you follow through on your intentions. State your goals, timelines and resources, and then set up a series of steps to start you on your way to a successful learning experience.
When you recognize the importance of learning in a rapidly changing workplace, you’re in a good position to take action. Whatever, wherever, and however you learn, having goals and a plan will make you a happier lifelong learner. Learning for work will help you meet, and even benefit from, challenges in your workplace.