We hear a lot about learning & development in the workplace, and it’s something we look forward to (or at least I do). And if you’re really lucky, your company may have a special allowance or is well-known for providing training opportunities.
But most of the time (at best), it’s a once a year course everyone gets sent to, someone who comes to give a presentation to the team, or a compulsory online course. Not that exciting and certainly not that personal…
But when we think about how important it is to grow as professionals so we stay relevant in our jobs, we should be investing in learning & development much more regularly. If you’re not so lucky as to have a learning and development allowance, or if your company is not all that excited about the prospect, don’t worry there are still ways for you to learn on the job, and at low cost!
- Watch & learn from your peers & superiors. You are surrounded by colleagues who all have different backgrounds, experiences and ways of working than you do. The great thing about that is that there’s pretty much always something to learn from them. Be curious about how they do their jobs, notice what interests you, and ask them questions!
- LinkedIn. It’s a great source to find thought leaders and professionals in your field. There are a lot of conversations taking place that you can join in and exchange ideas, there are lots of relevant articles being shared, and of course you can follow thought leaders or CEOs… Not to mention LinkedIn groups in which you can find thriving communities discussing topics of interest.
- Podcasts. I’ve become a huge podcast geek and there are so many out there you can listen to in order to open your mind and learn about a whole variety of topics. Sometimes learning doesn’t always come directly from the topic you think you should know but from something completely random. And the great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while on the go: running, cooking, cleaning, commuting… Watch this space for some of my favourites…
- Books. Of course books are another great and “traditional” way to learn. There are many interseting business books to be read, from ones about management styles (again here), to business models such as Content Inc. to others such as Give and Take or biographies like Hit Refresh, there’s something for everyone.
- TED Talks. The world famous talks are all archived online and are ready for you to watch at your leisure. In fact, the website will even curate talks for you based on your interests!
- Online courses. There are a number of platforms out there like Udemy, Coursera, or Lynda that offer online courses at a low cost, or sometimes for free.
- Use your experts. If you have experts within your company or your team, why not ask them if they’d be willing to give up some of their time to teach the rest of you?
- Attend meetups, free conferences and networking events. The majority of large conferences in your field will likely be paying, but there are also free networking events organized where people put together talks and bring in experts. These can be a great place to learn whilst meeting new people.
- Be an internal advocate! You can also start to champion learning & development within your company, which is what I did in my last job. Find opportunities to share back knowledge with your team, share interesting articles you read, spark debates over lunch time… Do your best to bring your curiosity to the rest of your team and encourage them to share knowledge.
With all that, you have a lot to get you on your way even if your company isn’t investing in formal training for you! And if they do, start reasearching and listing all the different courses you’re interested in.
How about you, how do you like to learn on the job?