Learning and development are basic things we do as children, sometimes on day to day basis. We learn how to sit upright, and develop as we learn to crawl, walk, run. We learn how to babble, then eventually develop our skill to pick on words and talk, and finally we learn and develop the skill to write. We learn a new skill, language, sport, musical instrument, concept, idea. We develop all that as we progress through levels and grades.
We grow up, and sometimes, we forget about the importance of learning and development, or L&D, as it is known in the professional jargon.
Focusing on L&D is important even when we enter the world of work (obviously in a different way than we did as children). And now, in the present context of WFH, it is an even more important thing to do. Learning has become almost mandatory now.
What are some things you can do by yourself?
Getting a better understanding of technology: Learning and development as adults with jobs could include things like learning to use a new technology, getting an understanding of how an app runs, and how it could be applied to your professional growth. Zoom meetings come to mind, don’t they?
Certificate courses: This could include taking up an online course for a programme relevant to your field, where you need to devote a couple of hours every week to get the certificate. It could also include a non-virtual, offline workshop/conference which can give you insight about a specific domain. (Safety warning: in the present context, stick to online ones.)
Sometimes, companies themselves might conduct workshops/conferences/talks, as we did with our team; online English classes are being given to our team as a way to help them grow continuously even in this context of restricted outdoor movement.
Full-fledged degree: With the emergence of the internet, getting a proper degree is possible via distance learning programmes, available on national as well as international online learning platforms.
Social Interaction: Learning and development can take place through social interaction as well: it could be by learning on the job from other co-workers, or it could be actually getting a mentor and learning the tropes from them. The scope of what could be considered a social interaction has increased. So, even in these times of social distancing, and real- time online communication, it is possible to learn from our fellow colleagues, seniors and juniors.
Why is learning and development important? What are some benefits of continuous learning?
Adding to your profile: This is the obvious answer. With anything new you learn, you get to add it on your resume. Sometimes, it takes just one little skill which can make you stand out and give you an edge.
Preparing for the unexpected: The present situation of lockdown and WFH is an example of how unpredictable even our professional lives are. You don’t always get time to prepare; rather, one has to be prepared and keep preparing when one has the time, energy and resources.
Learning new skills, new tools, new strategies thus, is a necessity.
Chain Reaction: Continuous learning not only means that you will develop new skills and insights, but that you will have an edge over people. This means that it will open up avenues for you to lead, to manage, to mentor, to coach, to train others.
Learning and development should be continuous, whether formal or informal. And the present scenario is one example of how helpful it is to be prepared, and how continuous learning is a secret to success.
Regardless of the global situation, the next time you feel your brain is beginning to feel sluggish and tired, take up something to learn!