When is the ideal time to learn something new? Put another way, when is there ever a quiet few months in which to tackle personal development goals? I doubt there ever will be an ‘ideal’ or ‘quiet’ time, since the stack of competing claims on our time is increasing daily. It might take a very long time to roll the dice correctly to earn permission to start.
There’s also always the risk that some senior colleagues view that time as time spent being unproductive.
I vividly recall saying as much to a colleague whom I mentored. His aspiration was to earn a promotion from his entry level management role to the next management grade.
I encouraged him to look at the common attributes called for in the roles he wanted to hold. I supported him in identifying voluntary opportunities in his current role that he could exploit, to demonstrate his potential. We came up with a twelve month development timetable he could follow, to gradually build up his skills portfolio. His goal was to be at the front of the promotion pack one year hence. Then reality intervened.
Somehow my mentee’s line manager never got around to creating the space for his wider potential to be demonstrated. Perhaps that manager liked the results he was getting from my mentee and thought my mentee was happy staying in that role. Inevitably that line manager then left.
Their successor needed to focus on maintaining results, not developing people.
An internal re-organisation followed.
Before the dust settled the ideal time for development had passed.
If there is a lesson to take away from this example, it may be this. However difficult the reality, the ideal time for development may just be ‘now’.