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Many attend learning events, say they enjoyed them a lot but later wonder what they gained from them. They are part of a large number of people who do not make and implement action plans. To my mind, action planning is by far the best way to effectively transfer learnings from a learning event or training program, to where it matters the most-back on the job. This is a weak area for most simply because they don’t take responsibility for this process. They forget an important learning principle: “If it is for me, it has to be by me”. Here are my 7 Steps for Action Planning:

  1. Identify Critical For Success Factors; Every job has a few critical factors for success. You may be good at a hundred different things but you are sunk if you aren’t good at what matters most in your job. Do you know what is “Critical For Success” in your job? Job content and the environment change often. When was the last time you checked this out?
  2. List Learnings: Every learning event, hopefully, sends you back with a series of learnings. They may be totally new- if you are being exposed to a subject you have never studied before- or be are-reinforcement of things that you already knew, perhaps vaguely. This is more often the case. Learnings also flow from experiences swapped at the event with the program leader or other colleagues.
  3. Shortlist 3-5 high impact actions: Don’t waste time listing 47 things you need to do. Nothing comes out of this. Choose no more than 3-4 key actions, which when implemented, will have a high impact. Run them through the filters of criticality ( based on importance) and immediacy ( based on time). You will notice that these will almost automatically be aligned with the Critical For Success factors in your job.
  4. Draw up SMART goals: Vague intentions of improvement remain dreams. “I will be a better manager in future” is no goal. Make your goals SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound.
  5. Demonstrate a will to improve: This is the key difference between successful people and others. Successful people not only plan actions- they implement them. Most others are well meaning but don’t get down to doing things. This is one step no one else can do for you.
  6. Review progress: Check how well you are doing in incorporating a new behavior in your repertoire. How well you have used a new skill in your skill set. Periodically review progress to know that you are on track. Get feedback from others and do some analysis yourself.
  7. Hold Gains: Once you make progress, hang on to those gains. If you don’t hold gains, you could regress back to where you were. After some time, you will find that the new habits/skills become an integral part of you.

Implementing action plans has multiple benefits-for your team, your organization and most of all- for you.

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This is Post No: 347 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.