Things you think you can do without training

Something that perplexes me about the professional world is that there are a number of things we seem to assume we can do just fine, in spite of the fact that we may have no training whatsoever. They include (but certainly are not limited to!) the following:

  • Data visualization
  • Managing people
    • Hiring
    • Giving feedback
    • Assigning work
    • Doing annual reviews
  • Presenting
    • Creating visual aids for presentations (e.g., powerpoint decks)
    • Actually giving presentations
  • Writing (emails and otherwise)

These are important things that we might do every single day! (Especially those of us who are managers) So you’d think there would be a lot more emphasis on training and focused improvement on them.

Think about it: when someone becomes a prospect researcher, they get training on a range of skills: using special resources; searching the web effectively; analyzing SEC documents; finding and using assessors’ databases; etc.

But when was the last time anyone talked about taking time to get training on data visualization? Or doing annual reviews? Or giving presentations? These are the sorts of things that many people just dive in and do, in many cases without taking a lot of time to think seriously about how we do them well (much less getting focused training).

I think this needs to change. As professionals, we have an obligation to continue to hone our skills in all areas. And if this general obligation-to-get-better notion doesn’t resonate with you, think about it this way: if you’re the gal (or guy) who is just a little bit better than everyone else at hiring people; at giving feedback; at creating visual aids for presentations; at writing… then you are going to start to stand out and get noticed, in your office, at your organization, and within your field.


4 responses to “Things you think you can do without training

  1. Sharla Donohue, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

    Great post, Mark! I think that many of us in prospect research are self-taught and self-directed. It’s up to one’s own self to honestly assess the gaps in knowledge and experience. For example, I am trying to learn as much about data visualization as I can on my own through online webinars, articles, etc. The reports that I present to my team need to quickly and efficiently convey the story that I am trying to tell. When someone on my team asks me, “What does this mean?” I know that I need go back to the data and figure out how to be more descriptive. Also, I’m not afraid to ask for (and when appropriate, act upon) feedback from my audience.
    The other area that I am working on is managing people, which is why I am always willing to take on volunteers. I am learning hands-on how to deal with different personalities, work styles and ethics; how to train and mentor newbies; and even how to correct behavior and practices that are not productive in out business environment. There is a cost of investing time and resources, but I am learning a lot and hopefully, my volunteer is too!
    I think that continued learning is important for any business professional, but maybe it’s essential to a researcher. When we stop expanding our skills, we stagnate. And because there isn’t always formal training to develop those skills, we need to be creative and collaborative in our own efforts. To that end, I hope that others will share what they have been doing to fill in their own knowledge gaps!

  2. Pingback: The problem with data visualizations | Managing Prospect Research

  3. Pingback: How to Get Ahead in this C-Average World | Managing Prospect Research

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