If you’re ready to dive into helping your child improve executive functioning and planning skills, consider these key strategies. They may help avoid common stumbling blocks and set up your child for success:
What exactly is a skills development plan ?
A skills development plan can either be completed by an individual, or by an employee together with their manager. When an individual puts together their own plan, it may be known as a personal development plan, while one created within a business is often called an employee development plan. Here, we’ll be focusing on skill development plans for employees.
The purpose of a skills development plan is to help employees achieve certain goals . While these will be aligned with the aims and future objectives of the business , the plan will be primarily shaped around the individual’s professional ambitions . They help to focus the employee’s mind on what they want to accomplish in the short and long term, and enable them to map out the actions they need to take in order to hit their targets.
For example, an employee’s short-term goals may be to gain more experience in different aspects of their role with a view to achieving a long-term goal of moving into a managerial role. A skills development plan could recommend a variety of employee development methods, from shadowing other staff members to completing courses.
An employee’s skills development plan is not, however, permanently set in stone. Instead, it should be thought of as an evolving document that adapts as their needs and wants grow and change over time. Additionally, the employee isn’t the only person who must take action—it’s also up to any relevant managers to ensure that support and resources are made available so that any objectives laid out in the plan can be achieved.
Benefits of a skills development plan
The advantages of developing employees’ competences extend both to the team members themselves and to the entire company . If you’ve never put together a skill development plan before, though, you may not realise how many specific benefits they can bring.
Firstly, by creating a plan, you’re providing the employee with a clear understanding of what’s expected of them in the weeks and months ahead. Likewise, they can expect a level of support from management to help them meet their targets. Moving forward, both sides can then use the plan as a way of figuring out whether adequate progress is being made. If one party is falling behind, then appropriate actions can be planned and taken to help improve employee development.
By implementing the recommendations set out in the skills development plan, businesses can help to increase employee performance . Not only will this help them to excel in their current role, but it also prepares them to move upward within the company, reducing the costs associated with recruiting and training external candidates. Similarly, it makes the individual more employable over the long term.
Businesses can benefit in many additional ways. Firstly, by investing in employee growth , they can help to foster positive sentiment towards the company, building loyalty and increasing motivation levels. What’s more, by putting the work in to upskill employees now, organisations can future-proof themselves by ensuring their staff have the necessary skill set required to tackle any future challenges.
A Way to Plan If You’re Bad at Planning
Planning can be hard for everyone. But even if you feel like planning just doesn’t come to you naturally, there are steps you can take to get better at it. Based on new research, the author offers several strategies to improve your approach to planning. Specifically, she suggests starting by recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses and accepting that planning is hard for you. Next, let go of absolutist thinking, and explore different systems until you find one that works well for you. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and keep trying even when you get frustrated. We can all struggle with planning — but with these simple steps, you can start to understand the roadblocks in your way and work to overcome them.
As a time management coach, I’ve seen some incredibly intelligent people struggle to plan. For example, very creative people who think in pictures can initially have a difficult time translating their conceptual ideas into practical actions that then find a space on their calendars. They need someone to guide them step-by-step on how to go through this process. Or some individuals who do an amazing job on identifying and executing on their top priority can falter when it comes to tracking and completing other tasks concurrently, including managing others.
In reading the book Thriving in Mind: The Natural Key to Sustainable Neurofitness by Dr. Katherine Benziger, I came to understand the scientific basis for what I had observed in my clients — that some people’s brains are naturally wired for maintaining order, while others’ aren’t.
It all comes down to brain science. Those with natural brain dominance in the back-left part of the brain are most comfortable making linear plans and following them. These individuals typically don’t have a need for my coaching help and often don’t understand why others struggle. But those with brain dominance in a different quadrant of their brain will find planning much harder. That’s because the neurochemistry of their brain causes them to use 100 times the energy to think in “planning” mode as someone whose natural dominance is back left.
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Just as we tend to recognize that skills like creativity, analysis, or writing can come much easier to some than to others, ease with planning is something that we’re either born with or we’re not. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t develop those skills by actively building neuro-connections in our brain through persistent practice.
As a time management coach, I’ve intuitively picked up on the importance of this truth. I’ve seen clients who have never been able to plan effectively in their entire lives develop this skill simply by looking for help, keeping at it, and pushing through the struggle — essentially, building resilience.
Recognize your natural strengths and weaknesses. If you find planning extremely difficult, you likely don’t have natural brain dominance in the back-left part of your brain. To find out what part of your brain dominates, do the self-assessment in the book Thriving in Mind or participate in the more formal Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment. Learning this can help you better understand what works for you and then use that to adjust your habits. By taking the Thriving in Mind self-assessment, for example, I gained clarity on why certain types of work came so naturally to me and why I found myself avoiding other types of tasks.
Accept the difficulty. If we think something should be easy when it’s hard, we tend to get upset and are more likely to give up. But if we set expectations that a task will be difficult, we may still flounder, but we’re more willing to work through any issues, since we understand that challenge is part of the process. When my coaching clients first start planning, they describe it as frustrating, disorienting, tiring, or even anger-inducing because they don’t want to accept the limits of reality in terms of how many activities can fit in a day. The clients who accept and work through those feelings are the ones who make the most progress. They find that on the other side, they have more peace, more confidence, and more clarity on how to structure their time well.
Let go of all-or-nothing thinking. One interesting phenomenon I’ve observed with people whose natural brain strength is not in planning is that they tend to fall into all-or-nothing thinking. They think that they must follow their plan perfectly, or their efforts have been wasted. Or if they can’t plan every day, they shouldn’t plan at all. Instead, view learning as a process where improvement counts and every day matters. This will build your resilience because you won’t beat yourself up as much when you deviate from your plan, and in turn, you will find it easier to get back on track.
Find systems that work. Instead of forcing yourself into an established scheduling process, find a system that works for you. For example, if you tend to have a strong tendency toward visuals (a common front-right brain dominance quality), find a way to organize that takes that preference into account. Put to-do items on sticky notes, draw on whiteboards, or use mind maps. If you love spreadsheets (often found when you have a strong front-left brain dominance), put your to-do lists and plans in Excel, or consider using apps that will allow you to track your progress in a numeric fashion. If you like to see time as a flow and rhythm (a favorite of back-right dominance), use tools like paper lists that will allow you to adapt and adjust the cadence of your day as needed, instead of feeling boxed into rigid time frames. There is no wrong way to plan. Experiment until you find the right fit.
Borrow other people’s brains. If you know people who excel in planning or have organization skills, ask for their advice and insight. They may be able to easily offer potential solutions to problems that overwhelm you. Getting suggestions from others on organization systems that you can then test, instead of trying to develop your own, can save you lots of time. A few caveats: Avoid critical people who may discourage you in your learning process. Change is tough enough without being torn down. Second, ask them for simple solutions. Don’t aim for expertise in an area when you’re just learning; a basic level of knowledge is a good start.
Keep trying. One of the definitions of resilience is “the ability to spring back into shape.” When you find yourself getting frustrated in the process of planning, have self-compassion when you make mistakes, refocus when you get distracted, and adjust your plan when new issues crop up. For example, you may decide to move a project you thought you would get done today to the next day. Or you may reach out to a colleague for help on getting a certain deliverable done.