The ME Development Program
by Stacey Rivers
Choosing the right development program can be challenging, especially when it comes to the cost and the curriculum. While some programs can be the right fit to gain new skills, the price tag can be astronomical. Then there are some that are cost effective but the curriculum lacks the substance or focus needed. For mid-level managers, it can be especially challenging to locate one with an agenda to prepare them for the next level in their organization. A combination of the skills for development, level of experience, and cost to participate can make it harder to find the perfect situation that will meet the needs and expectations.
Internal programs are always a good choice because of the intrinsic benefits: business acumen, collaboration, networking, visibility, the opportunity for image enhancement, and the internal spend can make the approval process easier. External programs also have its own benefits and incorporate most of the previous characteristics including the ability to speak candidly about personal challenges and company politics, the occasion to cast a wider net for networking, and a unique learning opportunity not shared with everyone in the organization. Although tight budgets have put a damper on external spends and can make justifications an Act of Congress, don’t fret, there is something you can do to enhance your skills.
For those who want development but can’t seem to find one that fits the objective or the budget, you should seriously consider creating your own development program customized to your needs. It’s easier than you think, but takes a little research and commitment.
The ME Development Program
I dubbed this program “The My Expectations (ME) Development Program” because the focus was on ME. It’s designed to allow you to build a program based on your unique goals using existing resources, at a rate you can budget for, and a pace you manage. The cost for most of these offerings are low to none with the real investment coming in the form of time and commitment.
The components below can give you a jump start to designing your own program:
- Skills Assessments
- 360 Feedback
- Membership in a Professional Organization
- Volunteer Roles
- Stretch Assignments
- Mentoring Programs
- Reading Lists (audio books can maximize drive time/commute)
- Personal Board of Directors
- MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses
- Informational Interviews
- Become a Subject Matter Expert (SME)
- Executive Coaching
The opportunity here is to use your personal specifications to engineer a development plan that speaks to your level, experience, and the direction you want to go in. Get advisement from a career coach or mentor to give you an objective perspective for what you are planning. Once you have your plan (with a time frame) solidified, share it with your manager to gain her support. This strategy will also demonstrate your initiative, resourcefulness, and ability to problem solve – all traits of a good leader!
You own your career, therefore, your development is your responsibility. Make the commitment, make the time, and make the connections. It’s an investment that may pay off in more ways than one.