Fall is generally the time for enrolling in formal education. If you are currently employed, lifelong learning isn’t something that stops after high school or once a college degree is obtained.
Here’s a few elucidating blogs:
- How leaders can develop remote management skills
- Digital job skills for remote work
- 10 Best Practices for Training Remote Employees
- Remote onboarding benefits challenges, training and case studies
Once you start work and go about developing your career, it can not be stressed enough the importance of scheduling time for your own self and professional development. We’ve written previously on the importance of developing oneself for career advancement. This article is suited for the person employed on a remote job, working from home or working flexibly who is in need of advice on ways to develop their career in the absence of a mentor, in-person supervisor, or experienced colleague.
Employee development may not be a top concern for management
Not all employees have the luxury of working for an employer who has intricately woven mentorship, career development and rotational leadership opportunities into the fabric of their corporate culture.
Maybe they are not to blame. Some leading consulting and advisement firms may not stress talent development. In fact, we have observed and posted here before that past business practices involved the hiring (poaching) of key personnel who have already been developed and trained by their competition.
Another post of interest:
For instance, a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article citing PWC research stressed these five key elements of business leadership:
- Protect people
- Communicate effectively
- Maintain continuity of work
- Assess workforce costs
- Prepare for recovery
When reading and reflecting upon the business article produced by operational experts, we noticed one glaring omission. “What?” you might ask.
- Develop talent pool
Employers with corporate training programs see 24% higher profits
Smart employers are wise to develop more formalized employee training programs while they are on the job. Why? Zippia data evidence employee training programs a determinant factor for profitability. Companies utilizing robust employee training programs have been reported to experience profit margins 24% higher than companies without comprehensive training initiatives Additionally, a full 92% of employees report well-planned training has positive impacts on engagement. And, if you are a company concerned about the retention of top talent, 42% of employees state they would consider staying with their employer longer when they take investments in employee training into consideration.
59% of workforce report employers lack employee training programs
Contrast these statistics however this these alarming facts:
- 76% of employed workers are always on the look out for better career opportunities
- 59% of people in the workforce report that their companies do not have formalized employee training programs
We have observed and posted here before that there has been past business practices adopted of hiring key personnel who have already been developed by competitors. The Australian HR Institute shared data from the Robert Half employment agency depicting upwards of 98% of workers currently employed and NOT actively seeking new employment were approached by employers attempting to recruit them to join another company.
So, ask you reflect upon this information, it is important to note that it behooves one to take it upon oneself to conduct career development and career advancement activities independent of one’s employer. How is self-directed or independent learning defined? Basically, self-directed learning involves people taking their own initiative to be responsible for their own learning. Its’ that simple.
Regardless of age, independent learning has many benefits
In formalized educational settings: kindergarten to twelfth grade, college, graduate, post graduate and vocational training programs the virtues of independent self study as been widely accepted as a valuable tool to impart learning. A report from the London Department of Children and Families showed these benefits, in part:
- improved academic outcomes
- increased student motivation and self-confidence
- enhanced self-awareness of abilities and limitations
Children and, young adults notwithstanding, there is also data demonstrating the advantages of independent learning among adults.
Other interesting posts:
Ways to learn new job skills without a formal corporate training program
As a backdrop, self-directed learning began in 1960s by Cyril Houle, author of the book, Inquiring Minds. From Houle’s perspective, he argued quite convincingly that adults can learn in formalized educational settings, in groups, and of course, alone. Education Reseach International reviewed Houle’s body of academic work to conclude that adults consciously or subconsciously can spend large blocks of time acquiring new job skills, maintaining skills already possessed and adapting to current circumstances. Houle’s early disciple, Tough made the commonsensical observation that adult learning can be conducted via:
- reading books and informative articles
- listening to expert presentations
- observing a new concept applied
- participating in formal courses and training programs
- reflecting upon one’s own thought processes (metacognition), and
- applying knowledge through practical (stimulations or real world) exercises
But getting back to remote work. Research tells us that corporate training, mentorship opportunities, coaching and soft skills guidance can be crucial in the early stages of one’s career. And, don’t forget those experiencing a mid-career slump. The lack of these initiatives may be particularly harmful for staff employed in jobs that are remote.
20% of employees learn new job skills through peer interaction
Zippia provides this detail about, “Where employees learn their abilities.”
- just 10% learn new job skills and abilities through formalized employee training
- roughly double that amount (20%) master new job skills by “interacting with co-workers”
- the remaining 70% learn new job skills by applying new skills on the job
Steps to become a self directed learner when working virtually on a remote job
There are a few proven steps to take to become a self-directed learner when working from home on a remote job. And, particularly when you work in isolation as a distributed worker.
A few related posts definitely worth reading:
- 20 Job skills necessary for a remote job resume
- Stand out with soft skills when seeking a remote job
- The most important digital skills that will allow you to work remote
- Skills you should master to become a successfully remote employee
In the broadest application of self-directed or independent learning, individuals apply strong will and self-determination (possibly two key success traits) for the furtherance of learning. Therefore adult learners embarking on the journey toward greater knowledge (alone, with a coach, or in a like-minded small group of friends and colleagues) should follow these steps:
- identify existing knowledge gaps
- forecast potential areas for learning based on industry and job trends
- develop learning goals
- identify learning resources (E-books, webinars, podcasts, online academies, bootcamps, etc)
- create a learning calendar or schedule of events
- mark milestones and accomplishments
- evaluate learning outcomes and impact on success
- rinse and repeat
Self development tips for workers employed on a remote job
If you are pretty adept at creating a time management schedule for work-related tasks but are at a loss when thinking about your own professional development goals and schedule, we’ve added to these simple tips from Western Governors University to get you started:
- Create a dream board and post on your mirror, garderobe, in your closet, or on top of your dresser drawer,
- Start your day reviewing your professional development goals and not your Smartphone social media engagement
- Refrain from procrastination
- When preparing for work, listen to a 30 minute audio, or watch a Youtube video to acquire or re-learn a necessary job skill or work-related topic
- Use 45 minute to one hour break to listen to a webinar, podcast, re-read a skills workbook
- Throughout your workday, attempt to incorporate your developing or newly acquired skill into your work product. Here are examples:
- Foreign language, respond to a work text or chat or comment in a foreign language and explain its meaning
- Utilize a newly understood macro formula from Excel/Stata/Tabula or GPI into one of your work-related spreadsheets
- Express yourself using a new word in print or verbally
- Volunteer to give a work presentation (online, virtually) to share your newfound knowledge on the latest technique, business concept or platform (as you prepare to present you are embedding your new knowledge deeply in your mind)
- Endeavor to turn off your Smartphone for at least three hours per day (6-7am; 12:oo-1:00pm; and 5:00-6:00pm). Psychology Today explains that our mobile devices distract us and drain us from our energy because we expend so much energy just to resist the tempting urge to pick it up and scroll!
- Join a Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Eventbrite, or Meetup group with members who hold similar professional development or topic specific interests and are also committed about doing something to advance themselves
- Set aside one non-working day to personal and professional development