Career Development: Skill Development

Skill Development means developing yourself and your skill sets to add value for the organization and for your own career development. Fostering an attitude of appreciation for lifelong learning is the key to workplace success. Continuously learning and developing one’s skills requires identifying the skills needed for mobility at Cal, and then successfully seeking out trainings or on-the-job opportunities for developing those skills.

Developing your skills begins with assessing which skills are important for your desired career development. Read about career skills in the self-assessment section of this website. Speak with your supervisor or manager and other career mentors to identify the types of skills that will help move you forward in your career.

Your development should follow the 70-20-10 rule:

70% of your development should come from on-the-job activities and action learning. This can include development experiences like managing a project, serving on a cross-functional team, taking on a new task, job shadowing, job rotation, etc.

20% of your development should come from interactions with others. This includes having a mentor, being a mentor, coaching, participating in communities of practice, serving as a leader in a staff organization, etc.

10% of your development should come from training, including classes, seminars, webinars, podcasts, conferences, etc.

Once you have identified the skills you need to develop to achieve your career goals, your next step is identifying how you will develop your skills. The two main avenues for developing your skills are through the following:

  1. Education and training
  2. Developmental experiences

Ways to improve our focus, concentration and memory

Today’s digital world, easily distract us from concentrating on our daily schedule activities. Information is everywhere around us which we need to deal everyday with this ever increasing and multiple forms of information. It drags on our time and our attention.

Our daily schedule is dominated by switching in and out of our mobile phones and computer with lots of messages and mails to deal with. For solving our daily problems we constantly search for information thus consuming a lot of our valuable time.

Frequent distractions affect our productive effort. It takes longer to finish a task. Neither can we listen well nor can we comprehend information as well. This leads to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and conflict with our partner or colleagues. It thus affects our memory. We forget many things or can’t recall information promptly which affects our personal life and professional image.

As we grow older our aging gradually leads to many changes in our capacity to concentrate on our thinking and memory. We find it much difficult to and harder to focus our attention and grasp information or any topic quickly. This gradual slowdown in processing information can lead to a blockage of information entering our short-term memory, reducing the amount of information that can be acquired and programmed into long-term memory.

On reaching the age of sixty, more than half of adults have concerns about their memory. However, minor memory lapses that occur with age are not usually signs of a serious problem, such as Alzheimer’s disease, but rather it results in the normal changes of structure and function of the brain.

Everyone wants to know how to focus better and how to concentrate more as we are always unable to concentrate on the task at hand. Here we need to understand the benefits of improving concentration and focus on improving our memory to address this worthwhile issue.

Here are some simple ways how we can improve our concentration and focus on attending to the information presented to us:

When someone is talking to us, we should look at the person and listen closely. If we missed something that was said, we should ask the person to repeat it or to speak more slowly. We should paraphrase what is said to make sure that we understand it and to reinforce the information.

If we find that we tend to become distracted during conversations, we should try getting together with people in quiet environments. For example, we can suggest meeting at someone’s home instead of at a noisy restaurant. If we meet people at a restaurant, should try sit at a table near a wall. If our companions sit against the wall and we should sit facing them to be able to focus on them without having our attention wander to other dinner.

We can also improve your ability to focus on a task and screen out distractions if we do one thing at a time. We should try to avoid interruptions. For example, if someone asks us something while we are in the middle of reading or working, we should ask the person to wait until we’re finished. We should not answer to phone calls until we’ve finished what we’re doing.

Some more ways to improve our concentration and memory :

  • Being an organized person is easier to remember time schedule. Check listing and manually writing down our checklist also increases the likelihood that we will remember what we have written down.
  • We always need to concentrate on a particular task, but sometimes we get stuck and our brain needs something fresh to focus on. Here we should switch to other tasks or something we love to do. Switching tasks can help us stay alert and improve our productive for longer period.
  • Getting out into nature is incredibly important for our emotional and physical health. Enjoying nature can even be considered a form of meditation. Walking in a park can improved memory and attention compared to walking in a city.
  • Exercise has been shown to have cognitive benefits. It improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to the body, and helps to create new cells in the brain which are essential for memory storage. Walking every day is a good choice.
  • Mounting evidence shows the benefits of meditation on health. Studies show that meditation helps in improving several functions, like focus, concentration, memory, and learning. Meditation may actually revitalize the brain and encourage more connections between brain cells.
  • Our brain is made mostly of water. Water acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord. It helps our brain cells use nutrients. So just a small amount of dehydration can have disastrous effects. Aim for at least six glasses per day, or more if you’re very active.
  • Foods habits can affect cognitive functions like concentration and memory.  We should avoid processed foods, too much sugar, and very greasy or fatty foods foods to boost our concentration. A good healthy breakfast can help by boosting our focus first thing in the morning.  Meal should be low in sugars and high in protein and fiber.
  • Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time each morning should be a habit. Try not to break your routine on the weekends. This can greatly improve sleep quality, rest our brain and improve our memory power.

We can conclude by saying that memory is a skill, and just like other skills, it can be improved with practice and healthy overall habits. We may start small like picking a new challenging activity to learn, incorporate a few minutes of exercise in our daily schedule, maintain a sleep schedule, and eat a few more green vegetables, fish, and nuts.

Hence learning to concentrate at our work is essential for success in your career and life. By improving your concentration we can accomplish more of what we value and feel better doing it. It is not just about accomplishing a tasks but about making time for joy and happiness to achieve a meaningful and satisfying life.


Motivation gets killed at work, How?

When employees are motivated, they are excited to show up to work every day and contribute. They’ll help their coworkers when it’s needed. They’ll brainstorm new ideas and routinely go above and beyond.

When they’re not motivated, it’s a whole different story. Work becomes dreadful, and they only do the bare minimum just so they can keep their jobs.

Successful companies are built on the backs of motivated employees. Conversely, organizations staffed by unmotivated employees likely won’t stick around that much longer. That being the case, let’s take a look at six common factors that kill employee motivation:

A lack of professional development opportunities

Many of today’s workers — especially millennials — are extremely interested in opportunities to grow as professionals and advance in their careers. Yet many employees still believe that their organizations don’t offer adequate opportunities for professional development. If an employee feels like they are stuck in a dead-end job, doing the same routine and tasks day in and day out, they won’t exactly be inspired to take initiative.

Toxic coworkers and a toxic culture

When workers get along with their colleagues and love company culture, they’re happy and engaged. When they hate their coworkers and loathe their company’s toxic culture, they tune out.

Too many unproductive meetings

Are your employees going from one meeting to the next? If your company has a ton of unproductive meetings — and meetings about meetings — there’s a good chance your employees are becoming increasingly unmotivated.

Terrible leadership and management

Employees will work hard when their bosses are great leaders with clear visions and enviable work ethics. When managers are hypocritical and seem to not really know what they’re doing, it’s a whole different story.

Companies cannot be successful if they’re managed by unskilled people who don’t lead by example. When you promote folks who don’t deserve it into managerial roles, employee motivation can disintegrate overnight.

Employee feedback is never requested

Many employees still feels that they are not valued at their job. No matter what kind of worker you are, odds are you like it when people listen to what you’re saying and ask for your input on important decisions. Your employees are no different. They put in as many hours as you do. Because they have different roles, they have different ideas — some of which may be truly game-changing.

If you never ask your employees what they think about new proposals or initiatives, they won’t be encouraged or feel any ownership of what they do every day.

The absence of transparency

If you’ve ever worked for a company which made a major decision that completely blindsided almost everyone, you know how cheated you can feel when an organization lacks transparency. Of course, companies aren’t expected to keep all of their employees in the loop regarding every little thing that’s on the horizon. But when management operates in secrecy and doesn’t keep employees looped in on major decisions, motivation is killed.

If your company is guilty of any of the above, take immediate steps to change the behavior. Otherwise, you won’t be able to reach your full potential. It’s that simple.


A balance in Career and Life

There is a belief in our society that people should work hard for their entire lives, sacrifice themselves in order to earn a living, and then, when they have accumulated enough money, they can live the life they want.

This belief is the cause for much of our unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and pain.

The truth is that people, who design their career around their wanted lifestyle, rather than the other way around, actually work harder, make more money, have more opportunity, are more well-liked, and have more fulfilling careers.

We should make a list of the things that are important to us to have in our lives.

Now to write down what each thing will cost us, and be liberal on the expense side.

When we have calculated what we need in our life, then we know how much is required to live our ideal lifestyle. From there, we can begin to build the income streams necessary to make our dreams become a reality.

We define success only in the context of career – how far up the corporate ladder we can climb and how much money or bonus one could earn. I think we should take a much broader perspective on success.

To be truly successful is to have a balance in our life. So often we are focused on one area of our life at the expense of another. I really believe we are most successful when we are in balance and generally feeling happy with every area of life, whether that’s career, family, friends, significant other, finances, personal growth, health and wellness, physical environment and even spirituality.

Now what are our priorities?
First, it’s really important to get clarity around our values. What’s most important to us ? We should take some amount of time for some self-discovery to define our values. Often there is disconnect between what people say are their values and what they are actually practicing. Once we define and have clarity around our values, it becomes easier to make choices and decisions in our life.

In my experience, people are better able to express the “things” they want rather than what truly makes them happy. Helping people get reconnected to their values, desires and their dreams helps them to steer away from the pursuit of “things” and moves them toward what they truly value instead.

What are our goals and how to implement?
I strongly believe it’s important to not only set goals but to also review them regularly. Each year we should take stock of what we have accomplished that particular year and take the time to review what we have learned and how much we have grown in every area of our life.
Then we should also take the time to think about our goals for the following year:
• What do we want it to be in our status the coming year?
• What should success look like at the end of the year?
• What career and/or business goals do we wish to set for the year?
• What personal development initiatives or training do we want to undertake?
• Where far do we want to travel to achieve our goal?
• What much do we wish to gather experience though out the year?
• How much amount of money do we want to save or invest during the year?

It’s really amazing how many goals we can achieve just by identifying them and clearly articulating them.

Next we have to put time and energy on how to implement our action towards those goals set by us. Sometimes it’s time consuming and sometimes it’s just not an easy task. Successful people get things done, no matter how busy they are. So if we want to achieve something in our life with our goals set then we will put the time and energy into it.

Now it is to enjoy every step in the journey to success.
Lastly, it’s not just about reaching the goals; it is also about enjoying each & every moment along the way to the goal that’s fulfilling. The many wonderful memories and lessons learned along the way make the goal so much more meaningful than the goal itself.