It’s the first day of October, which means that by now most pencils are sharpened, notebooks are lined with doodles, and the spines of textbooks have been reluctantly cracked.
Many of us aren’t students anymore, but we still have plenty of opportunities to learn. Practicing the art of lifelong learning decreases the chance of becoming bored on the job, and picking up new skills makes one a more attractive candidate for a promotion or a raise when the time comes. Every day the best employees and managers push themselves to become better.
When you’re perpetually learning, you will be more engaged, perform better, and be happier at work. You will have the chance to uncover new interests and new talents which may even lead you down a new career path.
1) Ask your manager, ask your peers
Don’t know where to start? Begin with the people who know your work best. Even if it’s not time for a review with the department manager, they can always provide feedback. Where do you succeed? Where do you fall short? Is there anything your manager wishes you could offer as an employee? Soliciting insight ensures the responses received will directly benefit your work, and it shows you’re invested in the company’s growth as well as your own.
For personal as well as professional growth, it’s easy to chat with coworkers. Ask for their input, and find out what skills and approaches they utilize that can be adopted. Many companies have mentoring and reverse mentoring programs, which let company veterans and newer, younger employees learn from each other.
2) Explore other departments
Most companies have several internal departments, so there is ample opportunity to stretch and learn more about the company. Ask to shadow a co-worker from another department, or ask how they perform a particular facet of their job. Learn about the company’s branding efforts from the Marketing Department, or learn to troubleshoot from IT.
3) Acquire a new skill
No matter the industry or title, there’s probably a facet of the job that can be done better. Already performing at the top of the department? Brainstorm potential ways to streamline the work, or research skills that will make the role more efficient.
If you’re in a cubicle, hone presentation and communication skills through night classes or through Toastmasters International. If you talk to people all day, consider learning a new kind of language on Codecademy or through Udemy. No matter what looks interesting, diversifying one’s skillset makes you more useful to your company, and you may discover a new passion to boot.
4) Tackle new tasks
Have your current responsibilities mastered? Take a break from routine to do work outside the job description. Research industry trends, find ways to streamline the department’s current process, or take something off a colleague’s plate. Changing habits occasionally will keep you sharp and involved, and your manager will appreciate the initiative.