Have you identified your development zone?

I must shamelessly admit to one thing – every year I look forward to the development dialogue that I have with my manager and the one that I have with my team members. Development dialogue, as the name suggests, is an opportunity to discuss your dreams and aspirations.

Sometimes, we dream of things that go beyond the work horizon. And that is perfectly alright. Every new thing that one learns is an opportunity for growth. The lessons from personal learning and growth can always be applied in a professional setting.

For instance, a professional who gives wings to creativity as part of development process, will be able to imbibe the principles of innovation and out-of-box thinking in her/his work area. When I took up coaching as my development area little did I know then how much I would be able to apply its principles as a leader and manager. The program was very transformative for me and has truly led to my development not just as a person but also as a leader.

On the same note, there is absolutely nothing wrong in choosing a development area that aligns with your professional career. A team member can always opt for strategic management or leadership courses or learning programs. These programs provide great insights and can actually accelerate one’s career journey.

But the point is really not just that. My question to you is – how many of you actually have a development dialogue with your manager? How many of you even think of this as a critical and essential part of your professional growth? We are more often than not, fixated on performance appraisals and ratings. This is because many organisations are obsessed with evaluations. Cultivating a growth mindset comes way behind. It is only when organisations shift towards development and growth that things change and employees are able to fully utilise their potential and capabilities.

As a professional, you can make the beginning by initiating a development dialogue with your manager. This does require courage. Which is why, many stay away from entering this zone. However, if you are truly focused on picking up new learnings, it is a tool that you must utilise to your advantage.

Before you initiate this dialogue, it would be good to do your homework.

  1. Write down your dreams

What really excites you? What are you most passionate about? What do you see yourself doing say 5 years or 10 years down the line? Expand your thinking to bring in the personal interests as well. What comes up for you?

  1. Align your dreams with your present profession

After you have listed your dreams, turn your attention to your current job and organisation. Identify common areas/work situations where you will be able to apply your new knowledge (by following your dream). It is possible that you might hit a roadblock here and are unable to visualise the application of your dream. This is the time to turn to your manager and get some insights and clarity on the bigger picture of the organisation and the business priorities.

  1. Work on your timeline

Just like you have regular performance appraisals, it is always good to have a timeline by when you would want to focus on your development and complete a new learning program. Then comes the responsibility and accountability part. You will need to continuously monitor yourself and check that you are on the course. Focus on the journey as you move towards your goal of personal development and growth.

The next time you sit down to discuss your performance with your manager, set aside some time to discuss about your development. Be bold. Be audacious. Be shameless. Bring on your dreams. Change the conversation and give it a new meaning.

Give development dialogue its due place and importance in your own growth as a professional.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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