Firstly, I want to thank the team who organised the 2012 AVM Conference in London – yet another thought provoking and engaging event and a great opportunity to share knowledge and ideas with like-minded people, all with a wealth of experience and expertise…
I joined one of the afternoon workshops entitled ‘Me, Myself and I: Professional Development for Volunteer Managers’ looking, like many of the delegates, for the answer to my training ‘problems’ and we were asked to think about how well we prioritise our own professional development – were we: A. Too busy to think about it? B. Am working towards it but it’s not a priority, or C. I prioritise my own professional development (apologies to Sue Jones for not faithfully reproducing her slides here but you get the idea) and in a rather ‘too-smug-for-my-own-good’ kind of way I opted for C. Let me tell you why…
I attended the 2011 AVM Conference, mostly out of curiosity to see what other Volunteer Managers were doing, and the discussions about Volunteer Management as a ‘profession’ really struck a chord with me. I work for the Institution of Engineering and Technology – primarily a professional body for engineers and technicians – and although Continuous Professional Development for our members is not mandatory, they are expected to at least keep up-to-date with the latest legislation/technology within their field. Those working towards becoming a Chartered Engineer are expected to record every detail of their work/training experiences in the hope it will meet one of the many competencies involved in the registration process.
Whilst I think we’d all agree there is an expectation on all of us to keep up-to-date on the legal side of our work, very few of us think twice about putting off doing something about our training needs because we’ve got an inbox full of emails, or we should be doing some ‘real’ work, not just reading stuff or browsing on the internet.
So on my return from the conference last year I blocked time out in my calendar, switched off my emails, put my voicemail on and hit the internet. Having identified my strengths and weaknesses, I knew what training I was looking for and, because I’m lucky enough to have a supportive HR department and Manager, by the end of the hour I’d booked myself on a number of one-day training courses and identified a few more that might be of interest later down the line. I had a development plan!
So, the moral of this story is simple – only you can be responsible for your personal and professional development – whether it’s trawling the internet for resources, booking up training courses, arranging work shadowing or attending a conference. Be clear about what you need to achieve, why you need it and how it will benefit you and your organisation. Try and keep a record of what you do and what you’ve learnt from it – something you can refer back to at appraisal time when you need to shout about your achievements.
As a well-known provider of sporting goods says: ‘Just do it.’
But do it now. I did and what a difference a year makes….
Post by SBrown