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Performance Metric Friday — Personal Development

by David Brock on December 15th, 2011

As we finish the year and get ready for next year, it’s time to look at our personal performance metrics a little differently.  Each of us has to take responsibility for our own personal development.  Sure managers should be helping us improve our performance through coaching and providing the right training, but fundamentally, we are responsible for making sure we develop and improve as sales professionals.

Personal development comes through all sorts of formal and informal experiences.  We learn through training programs, through books, articles, blogs we may read (hopefully you’re learning some from this one).  We learn at conferences, by sharing ideas with our peers, and through mentors.  It’s a mistake to limit ourselves to one form of learning, but we should mix it up, seeking as many different experiences and points of view as possible.

Take a moment and reflect on what you did to develop yourself as a sales professional, business professional and human being.  Grab a sheet of paper and write down what you did for yourself this past year.  What training did you go through, did you get as much as you could from it?  What did you do outside of training your company may have given you to improve and learn?  What books did you read?  Were some of them outside pure business or sales books?  What blogs did you start reading and commenting on?  What online communities did you start participating in?  How did you expand your network and what did you learn from them?

Now take another sheet of paper and write a plan for next year:

  1. What formal training programs are you going to take?  Are you looking at programs outside of those that are just for your job?
  2. What are 2 skills that you want to sharpen?  What will you do to improve them?  How will you know when you reach the competency you want to achieve?
  3. What 1 new skill do you want to develop?  What will you do to acquire the skill?
  4. What 1 new thing are you going to learn that will help you become more valuable to your customers?
  5. What books to you want to read?  What blogs or other materials do you want to read?
  6. What communities will you participate in to learn from your peers?
  7. What do you want your direct manager to do to help you achieve your personal development goals?  How will you get your manager to commit to that support?
  8. Do you have a mentor?  What is your plan to leverage your mentor most effectively this year?
  9. What else will you do to improve yourself in 2012?

The best professionals never stop learning or developing.  They set tough goals and commit themselves to achieve the goals.  They know that no matter how good they are, how much they have learned, that if they don’t continue to learn and develop, they’ll become irrelevant.

Take some time to establish the plan, write it down, carry it with you, review where you are at least weekly.

If you are a manager, take one more step.  What are you going to do to make sure each of your people has a personal development plan in place?  What are you going to do to help them achieve that plan?

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  1. Dave, since 9 is such an incomplete number, I’m going to suggest a 10th item for your list: What will you unlearn or stop doing in 2012?

    • Jim permalink

      Very valid. Many a salesperson has made a mistake by not asking that question.

      For some, it is not possible to pick up some new good practices without first putting down some old ones. The problem comes when trying to identify those unproductive components of their business and realizing there are no metrics with which to make an intelligent evaluation. They find they have spent the last year on “auto pilot” expecting that at years’ end there will be an airport with a nice runway to land on.

      A stunning failure of the same business planning Dave is recommending here.

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