Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Learning a New Skill While on the Job

Learning a new skill can be daunting when it is connected with learning while on the job. There are times when one needs to bullshit their way through a client's question until you have time to go and research the issue. But the rewards can be great, including the following points.
  • You get paid to learn instead of the other way around
  • You may end up with a skill that earns a higher wage
  • Your boss will see that you are growing and may consider you quite valuable. 


Here are 10 tips to Learning a new skill while on the job:

  1. Never let a client see you sweat. If you don't know the answer, make an excuse to get back to them on the question. Always find out the answer and get back to the client. Most of the time they don't expect you to know everything, but they do expect that you can find out and report back to them in a timely manner. 
  2. Make affirmations. Seek out good things to say to yourself, and say them often. This will keep you moving forward when your lack of experience gets you down. I say to myself "I learn and improve from my mistakes." or "I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday."
  3. Find a mentor. Whether it is your cubicle mate, or an outsider, find a mentor that is knowledgeable on the subject. Unless they feel threatened, they usually like to share their smarts. Find someone that is not a direct competitor, and ask if they would mind if you called them once in a while. If they are not able to help, don't hesitate to see if they know someone who can help you. 
  4. Research. Spend time outside of work researching. Go to the library. Believe it or not, the library still has information that is not on the internet. Even just skimming books can give you lots of info. 
  5. Organize. If you have a meeting with a client or a manager coming up, take the time to organize your notes, new vocabulary, or concepts. This will empower you with confidence and help with recall during tense moments.
  6. Breathe. Don't give in to those feelings of doubt when you have a frustrating day in the learning curve. Getting paid while you learn is a fantastic opportunity. Your boss knows that you are learning, and while they will expect you to get educated and start using the knowledge in a timely manner, they will be blown away if you can stay calm and sound confident.
  7. Learn how to run a meeting effectively. This will come in handy when you need to get others to work with you to get the job done. For example, when I was starting out in the web design business, I had to learn about search engine optimization. Much of the team was out of the country, and I didn't have the luxury of getting information on a daily basis from them. About once a month, we would have a conference call. It became imperative to run a tight meeting to get all answers and to make sure everyone knew their duties. Running Effective Meetings by Keith Jackson Effective Meetings by Keith Jackson is an easy to read, yet informative article about leading meetings.
  8. Always make sure to be on top of your other duties. It is expected that you stumble a bit on this new skill, but not at the expense of your job. We all have a list of responsibilities, and managing them well will keep your confidence up while the new skill drags on you. 
  9. Build in study and practice into your work day. If you can, set up specific time each day to work on the skill; time enough to see forward progress, but not so much you become overwhelmed or that the rest of your job suffers.  
  10. Enjoy yourself. If it is not something you truly enjoy learning, then at least give yourself rewards for attaining goals. A break, time with friends after work, or a stop at the mall for a new accessory can make the hard work a bit more fun.
At the end of every day, when you look back, ask yourself what you learned. Every piece of knowledge is a building block to the next level. And when you have the opportunity to learn a new skill while on the job, take the challenge and prove yourself competent. You will see the rewards as you achieve each goal.

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