Getting up close and personal is part of life

David Taylor

Inside Track

If we don't take ownership of our lives, then someone else will. When things don't seem to be going our...

David Taylor

Inside Track

If we don't take ownership of our lives, then someone else will. When things don't seem to be going our way, we have to be persistent, see the positive, or perhaps simply look in the mirror.

Since I often write about personal development, one question I am often asked is how to adopt a formal, professional approach within the IT department, and what might be included in a communication on the overall subject.

Such a communication could follow this outline.

Personal development is about taking responsibility for applying what we have learned in our own lives. The areas that we may want to develop are most likely to be interpersonal skills, so crucial to success in our working lives.

To do this may require effort and energy but it may involve just changing one aspect of ourselves that would alter others' perception of our abilities or help us to be more confident.

The first port of call for advice in these areas is our leader or manager. They will be more than happy to discuss with you areas worth addressing.

If this only usually happens at performance review time, ask for feedback on a more frequent basis or concerning a specific item of work. It is interesting to compare how others' perceptions of you measure up to your own.

Alternatively, you could adopt a mentor to suggest development areas. The very purpose of having a mentor is to assist you with your personal development.

Self-appraisal is also useful, where you ask yourself questions such:as what do I think about myself? and what do Iwant to change? If you attend a course, for instance, you could ask the lecturer for some private feedback for a few minutes. It is useful to get first impressions, as they may expose an area that needs working on.

Asking your colleagues for their opinions is being encouraged in many companies. This is helpful because staff working with you will attach differing importance to various skills and traits you exhibit.

Undoubtedly, being aware of personal development can help you to achieve what you want in your life and career. One immediate outcome is that you will develop your curriculum vitae for when you move on to your next job. The acquisition of these new skills becomes a part of your CV.

Not only is the new skill an extra talent you can bring to a new job, it also carries the message that you are concerned about learning new things and developing yourself.

When it comes to what others think of you, you may say you are not bothered by others' view of you but, in fact, most of us are - that is why we conform and that is why we want the truth to be known about situations that would otherwise show us in a bad light.

Be mindful of your strengths in all of this. When we look for areas where we are weak and concentrate only on trying to bring those up to scratch, we are always in danger of becoming mediocre in many things. On the other hand, when we know what our strengths are, we must own them and improve on them - these are the skills which differentiates us from others.

Personal development plans, strategies and action will be very different from one company to the next. But in so far as it is down to us, as professionals and as people we must each of us take responsibility for being the best we can possibly be.

David Taylor's Inside Track, a provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is out now, published by ButterworthHeinemann Tel: 01865-88180

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