These days personal development has become so much more important than it used to be. Both on a personal and professional level. In order to maximize growth in the latter case, it's important to not keep your professional goals to yourself, but to share them with your manager and team. That way, they can support you in your self-development.
A support system: Why?
Why is this important? There are 3 main reasons.
A broader range of opportunities: Your peers or manager can spot opportunities for growth that wouldn't have drawn your attention otherwise.
Accountability: They can help you stay accountable for taking action. They can act as your accountability buddy, checking in with you from time to time to see how far you've come and how much you've worked on your development points.
Bigger network: When more people know what you want to learn, you also have access to more knowledge that can help you grow. Either because your team members themselves can teach you something in the areas you want to grow in, or because they have people in their network with valuable knowledge or skills.
Despite these advantages of sharing personal development goals with others, chances are high that people won't do this without a little help. There's an important role for you as a team leader to enable your team to share their development areas with one another. So how can you do this in a structured - and of course virtual - way? In what follows, we share one of our exercises that creates a context of sharing and lay the foundation for a team support system.
First, Have everyone write down their 3 main professional goals for the coming 6 months and let them share it with one another. By professional goals we mean personal development goals, not KPI's that need to be reached. For more info about how to formulate these goals, read our previous article on the topic.
Then, ask everyone to write down 5-10 things they are already good at and let them share as well (e.g.: working with Excel, creating a good story, making beautiful presentations, facilitation, being assertive, seeing the bigger picture, preparing efficient meetings, cold calling)
After this, it's time to focus on the common goals of the team. Ask everyone to individually answer the question "What goals should the team reach in the coming 6 months". Again: don't focus on KPI's here, but think of what you want to become better at as a team in terms of communication, collaboration, impact on your client, impact on other teams in your organization, etc. Once everyone has written down 3 common goals, share again and cluster the similar topics.
When you've finished these three steps, it's time to start connecting the dots.
Firstly, ask everyone to analyse which ones of their own strengths can help support their peers in reaching one of their personal goals. Map those together. Now you have an overview of which people can have an added value in the journey towards personal growth of someone else in the team.
Secondly, analyse the common goals to see which ones can be an added value for someone's personal goals (e.g. common goal = make team meetings more efficient, personal goal = become better at meeting facilitation). This creates an overview of the opportunities for growth that are already available within the team itself.
As mentioned before, this team exercise only lies the foundation for the team support system. It is key that action is being taken afterwards and that you organize a frequent follow-up. The latter can for example be done once in a month, during one of your team meetings. Go over the -virtual- board and ask team members the following questions:
"What steps towards your personal goals did you take this month?"
"How have you helped others in their personal goals? "
"What actions did you take to support others in reaching their goals? "
"How did our common goal help you progress personally? "