Learning is not a destination, but a journey. Every day, every new experience, every interaction with a person, known or unknown, is an opportunity to learn something new. At times consciously; at times, subconsciously.
At your workplace, it becomes even more critical to keep learning, whether it’s new skills, new knowledge or simply to upgrade your knowledge.
A willingness to learn is often seen as an eagerness to adapt and change oneself as per the requirement of the job or the client. But more than that, it adds a new dimension to you as a professional, enhancing your career prospects.
Here are five reasons and benefits of upgrading your skills and knowledge:
#1 Improve your performance
Perhaps you want to improve or address a weakness; perhaps you just want to learn from someone you admire. Talking to your immediate superior or reviewing your past performance reports will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and help you arrive at an improvement plan.
#2 Improve your productivity and business performance
Even within the organisation it is important to acquire new knowledge. Every year the industry is filled with younger people with the latest knowledge. To safeguard your position, and enhance the company’s business, you need to keep abreast with the latest developments.
#3 Get worldly-wise
Geographical boundaries are no longer a block to business or personal growth. If you have the right (and latest) skills and knowledge, you could get picked up by any organisation in any part of the world. Your specific skills could be what a potential employer is looking for to get an edge over competition. And if you can fill that gap, you are already a step ahead in your career.
#4 Rise up the ranks
As you move up the corporate ladder, management will view higher-certification and knowledge as tools to manage newer responsibilities. The expertise you gain will give them the confidence of your ability to handle specialised leadership roles.
#5 Soft skills
Nobody works in isolation, even freelancers. Every professional interaction requires soft skills – it could be to diffuse a conflict, handle emotions or just to keep team members motivated.
When you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder, soft skills are extremely handy and can make the difference between two equally technically sound individuals.
Ways to upgrade
While it is important to be certified, don’t overlook the benefits of expertise or skills. A certificate can get you only so far. For a real-life business scenario it is more important to acquire skills.
There are several free online courses that you can access any time. Some courses do start on specific dates and you might need to register for them. Pick one that suits your job requirement.
Besides online course, here are a few other ways for professional development:
- Industry journals, books, research papers, etc.
- Coaching and mentoring programmes, training courses, conferences, etc.
- Presentations or speaking at seminars
- Spending time in other departments
- Participating in committees, professional associations or industry forums
If you’re really serious about professional advancements, you will need a certain amount of dedication and perseverance. It is easy to slacken when the course is free. And you should be prepared to be taken out of your comfort zone. However, if you make learning a continuous habit, you will not just improve professionally but personally as well.