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Fortnightly Gripes & Hacks: 'personal development training' edition

Inspired by a comment from @John M Funk, II started thinking about all the different ways we grow as professionals.

Sure, there's lived experience--from on-the-job lessons learned to mentorship via managers. Then, there's passive learning--from online articles to recaps via coworkers or conference sessions.

What about the land of formal training? There are free and paid courses, like at Atlassian University, or on-demand tutorials, like through learning platforms. For me, I tend not to seek out classes unless something prompts them. I don't know how to tell a story from a certain perspective? I might listen to a podcast told in that way.. I've never run a certain type of program before? I might sign up for a class with an interactive instructor who I think is patient enough to answer all my questions. But to develop yourself personally, to truly try to grow continuously through training opportunities, I'm curious what everyone here does? Especially since I'm lacking in that department.

  • Gripe: it's not easy for me to know where I might need to grow professionally. Besides performance reviews, where my growth areas aren't necessarily things I find easy to learn without practice in an engaged environment. In fact, I find that the best ways that I learn are from real-life experience, but I can't simulate that in classes...or maybe that's something the classes should be trying to do for us through exercises.

  • Hack: when I admire someone's skill--for being a particularly good workshop facilitator, for knowing how to respectfully but sternly provide feedback, for being known for fair judgment--I've asked how they got so good in skill XYZ. Either due to the ego boost, their genuine love for knowledge-sharing, or because they're a helpful person, they often lead me to something I hadn't known about. "Oh, you went through a program?" "Ah, you didn't get good at facilitating until your 20th time?" "Oh, you employ an executive coach to improve your language skills around diplomacy?" So, instead of thinking of tried and true resources, asking others how they developed works for me.

All that said, how do y'all intentionally engage in personal development training? What works or doesn't work?


Love this question! For me it really depends on if I'm trying to develop a hard skill or a soft skill. When trying to learn how to use new software, for example, I want to be left alone to watch some videos, read some how-to articles, and play around in it myself for a while and then talk to someone on my team who is more familiar with the tool about how they use it. This way I already know the lingo a bit and can have a real conversation rather than a show and tell, plus this helps with the "you don't know what you don't know" issue that pops up when building brand new hard skills.

For soft skills like running a meeting or giving a presentation, I love when I can be in as many meetings as possible with someone who demonstrates that skill in a way I admire. I don't want to learn how to give a presentation like anyone, I want to learn how to give a presentation like Jane, because I've noticed she really grabs my attention in meetings. This helps me pick up on the little nuances that make them really good at speaking to customers/giving a presentation/etc. I don't typically ask them about what they're doing because I think it can get in their head a bit ("I noticed you talk with your hands a lot" could lead to them becoming hyper-aware of their hands) but if it comes up naturally I love talking to people about how they've built their own soft skills! (I once had a manager who kept a post-it near his webcam that said "talk less, smile more" which I also try to embody!)

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I never thought about the concept of "personalizing skills to your style" in terms of learning and personal development. I like that framing a lot, @Mel Policicchio!

Because you're right. I don't want to learn a generic way to give a presentation (and frankly, have heard the main talking points a lot). What I want to learn, is a style of presenting that speaks to me. Or a style of facilitating a meeting that aligns with my personality. Or a style of giving feedback that doesn't make me anxious. 

I'd love it if there could be a resource where different soft skill training were categorized by style...and maybe if that one style works for me, to be able to see other soft skills performed in that same style.

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@Christine P_ Dela Rosa that's a cool idea! Being able to sort through what I'm looking for in those soft skill resources would be neat, especially since right now I feel like I just wait to encounter someone with those skills in the wild. A resource like that would make it a lot easier to be proactive in professional development.

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John M Funk Community Leader Sep 21, 2021

My first intuition is to seek out persons who I know are good at what they do and ask their advice. That might mean I buy them lunch or coffee - just trying to remove as much friction as possible for them to attend. I find most people are willing to do this. 

Next, I look for online resources - which can come in a variety of ways such as blogs, podcasts, whitepapers, discussions, videos, etc. That way I can engage on my own time and usually at little to no cost. 

For more "formal" training, I actually find that conferences are a great way to learn and engage. Usually because instructors or presenters are available outside of their talk for more discussion and some 1-1 time. 

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Whare are some of your fav online resources or conferences for training, @John M Funk ?

John M Funk Community Leader Sep 22, 2021

To be honest, most come from Atlassian - periodic webinars, Atlassian University invites to presentations, of course Atlassian Team/Summit. I also enjoy reading the Jira Guy blog. And finally, online ACE meetings.

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I'm not good at proactive learning and understanding things to the deep. It requires a lot of energy from me. I also have tested myself using StrengthsFinder method (gallup), that's why I'm pretty sure I'm not good at it :). But I really like the feeling of being useful for others and it requires some personal development.

So my favorite way of learning something new is practicing and mirroring. Some examples

  • I want to improve my English -> I'm going to use the English on Atlassian Community and I'm going to call with Atlassian channel manager more often.
  • I want to have updated knowledge of Automation but I don't have any real project to test it because I became a manager -> I'm going to tell the team that I'm good at Automation and ask them to bring me difficult use cases so I can help with it OR I'm going to answer Automation questions on community
  • if I don't know what to learn I just ask my manager to throw me into a new project so I can learn something new
  • I like the way my manager moderates a meeting so I ask him to let me moderate next meeting

And I also like feedback from my teammates. It brings infinite number of perspectives for personal development. When I think about leader's skills at home, it really works and I'm able to put it into practice.

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Love the "Learning through application" mentality. 

Fadoua Community Leader Sep 26, 2021

First of all this is a very interesting topic!

For personal development there are multiple ways I go with. Reading a book, watching videos, attending a webinar, or paying for a continuing education class.

Right now, I am trying to learn Groovy. I was told from more experienced people to start reading code already available on Adaptavist Website, watch Ravi Sagar's videos, or google the Atlassian Community.

I won't say that I am a Pro, however it is helping me a lot. I am able to make changes to code written by someone else. I am still working on enhancing my skills and far from becoming an expert at it. My goal is to be able to write my own code from scratch.

Until then the learning will keep going.....



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Ooh, thank you for the specificity with your training go-tos. And good luck on your coding journey!

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Laura Holton Community Leader Oct 06, 2021

I've built a whole personal development library for my team with a range of learning materials and topics to suit anyone's PD needs. Having this hub or library means it takes away the time it takes to find and research what you may want to learn which means there's no excuse to jump straight in. 

In the past I've tried setting reminders to do a certain amount per week but this usually gets pushed to one side due to a pressing task at that moment in time. The library solves that as it's there as soon as I'm mentally ready and free to go. 

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A team library for personal development hacks? This is a holden idea!

Should we start one for this group? At the very least, I'm gonna share with my team. Thanks for the tip, @Laura Holton !

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Also, any favs in your library can/want to share here as an example?

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A library is a brilliant idea, thanks, @Laura Holton

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Laura Holton Community Leader Oct 07, 2021

Thanks @Christine P_ Dela Rosa and @Mel Policicchio 😄

It's been tried and tested for the past year and it definitely seems to be doing the trick. We currently host the library on a Trello board separating out in to categories and providing the links straight to the learning materials - splitting it out seems to work as you may want to focus on a specific skill or topic in your PD time and so they don't have to just scroll through one crazy long list. 

It also allows them to copy cards over onto their own boards if they'd like to do a series of training in one area and keep a track of progress. I tend to build it into checklists specifically for this purpose - as a manager you can take a quick look at the progress bar without the team feeling like your constantly chasing them up and as an individual it helps with motivation and a sense of achievement. 

I think one for this group would be awesome!

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Laura Holton Community Leader Oct 07, 2021

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa more than happy to share in more detail or help with anything around the library idea if you like, feel free to pick my brain 😄

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Okay, gonna give that Trello board idea a go with my team!

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Gaurav Community Leader Dec 27, 2021

Really interesting topic and have found great ways to improve my learning!!

For personal development, I usually create a plan in my mind, identify someone who is good at that, see where the differences lie, read journals/ attend webinars etc to overcome these, try to implement them in a small group, self evaluate and also talk to the identified person and discuss on the topic.

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