Another Soft Skill We Forget: Self-Development Strategies

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I’m deep into the current season of The Voice. It is the only television show that I watch on an actual television. (NetFlix and my computer screen usually win my attention. See one my favorite Voice contestants perform below.)

What fascinates me most about The Voice is how these individuals have managed to invest their energy toward a path that emphasizes their strengths. It’s a risky road for sure — especially in the capricious entertainment industry. However, the rewards are there. The most common outcome, especially in younger participants, seems to be an increased level of confidence in their own skills as a performer. (Winning is not the only valued outcome that emerges.) The mentoring relationship, critical to The Voice, of course — hones the strengths these individuals possess.

Ultimately, however, they must recognize their own gifts and seek a path to pursue those gifts. In the case of budding performers, it may have translated into seeking mentors in an established choir or building skills in a focused training experience of some kind. (Camps, singing at smaller events.)

Without this step, the journey cannot begin. As we are learning, developing “soft skills” can be a game changer for both work and career. Self-development ranks up there with a “chosen few”.

When we educate students or less established employees about the world of work, techniques to stoke self-development strategies are commonly neglected. Yet, another “soft skill” that could change the course of an individual’s career.

Becoming your own advocate — and owning this process — can be a huge advantage.

Here are a few ideas to rectify this situation:

Encourage Self-Discovery. This involves reflecting on key experiences to unearth perceived strengths, as they complete their courses or begin to amass organizational experiences. Often the signs of an emerging strength are subtle and overlooked.

Teach “conversation”. Handling important, yet difficult, conversations is a needed workplace skill. When broaching development needs/desires, less established employees may feel insecure to move forward and open the channel.

Discuss the range of options. Ultimately, taking responsibility for development is personal. However, if you are unaware of the range of development possibilities, this all becomes moot.

Encourage balance. We must balance our need to drive self development with the needs of the organizations. However, both are vital to a healthy career.

What are you doing to develop your own career? Share your ideas here.

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Dr. Marla Gottschalk

Dr. Marla Gottschalk

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and blogger who specializes in workplace success strategies and organizational change. She has held various roles in management consulting and research. Currently she serves as Practice Manager of Organizational Development, at Rand Gottschalk & Associates. In this role, she helps individuals, teams and organizations develop intelligently — to meet work life challenges with a sense of confidence and empowerment.As a member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, she explores current workplace topics — including those related to organizational development, employee engagement and personal growth. She believes that we all need viable strategies when facing workplace dilemmas — and that we can learn to effectively navigate through stubborn issues and obstacles.Her views on workplace topics have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, American Express Open Forum, CareerBuilder, CBS Money Watch, Deskmag and other outlets worldwide. Her blog, The Office Blend, explores topics impacting careers and work life. (A "Top 75 Website for Your Career" blog pick by Forbes.) She is also a contributing blogger at TalentZoo and US News &World Report.

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