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Using personal development plans as the basis for learning

Looking at my last 3 years working as a Learning and Development specialist, trainer and coach here in Vietnam, I am happy to see the amount of trainings increase. Individuals, managers, CEO’s and companies & organizations in general are seeing the benefits of training, and have jumped on board to organize workshops on many different topics. An increasing amount of these topics are professional skills (or “soft skills”), which typically involve topics such as Leadership skills, Communication skills, Time management, Sales, Negotiation, etc. Not only are these topics really engaging, especially for participants who never received these kinds of workshops before, they are also the best predictors for professional (and personal) success! 

In the 1990’s, Daniel Goleman was the first person who introduced the world to “Emotional Intelligence (EI)”, as well as social intelligence. In his studies and books, he showcased that in 90% of the cases, 2 people with the same level of IQ, the same educational background but a varying degree in Emotional Intelligence, the person with higher EI is much more successful in his/her professional and personal life. This doesn’t just work on a personal level: companies these highly sensible people work for also see tremendous growth in productivity, a positive work culture and better performance across the board. In addition, the retention rate of your staff will increase, as people love working in organizations where they are valued and have a sense of purpose. Companies with high emotional intelligence are very good at bringing these qualities together and so retain their top talent. In short: there are lots of reasons to get our people trained. 

Emotional Intelligence isn’t like playing the piano: you don’t have to start at an early age to become good at it. Still, as any acquired skill, we need to put time and effort into our learning process. And herein lies the challenge: one workshop on how to be a great communicator doesn’t make you a great communicator overnight. We need focus and repetitive exercise, combined with feedback from our peers and managers to grow these skills and reach new highs. More often than not, professional skills workshops lack follow-up, a clear implementation plan, and regular repetition of the trained skills to ensure the skills are maintained and grown over time. This can make workshops a great moment of clarity, inspiration and motivation only to be followed by indecision on how to implement the skills. Also, we have short memories: we forget 95% of what we have learned in our workshops in a month’s time. This makes workshops without follow-up a costly affair.

As a result, I’ve been trying to get my clients to invest in learning journeys instead of separate training sessions. Each of these journeys are different, as my clients have different goals on what their trainings need to accomplish. Do you see trainings more as an inspiring tool to keep your staff engaged and focused, then a regular delivery of one-off workshops are a great way to do this. Do you see the same mistakes repeated over and over? Then a learning program with implementation goals and regular feedback might be better suited to your needs. One of my best ways of doing this is to start with a learning plan, instead of ending with one. A personal profile and a personal development plan already give my participants a starting point, from which it becomes much easier to set future goals for growth. This is important for 2 reasons. Firstly, people can immediately see where they need to grow, so they can also see where they will be going. Our brain always needs a goal, and this helps us on our way and is a lightning rod for the journey ahead. Secondly, as we have ourselves recognized where we need to grow, there is a desire to reach this goal which will give us motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the one key element we need for growth. I can help you grow this motivation in abundance! Happy learning!

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