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Who develops the developer or trains the trainer?

Good leadership and management, among other things, is about helping people to be the best they can be. The same is very true for those working in the Learning & Development field.

Sometimes we can be so focused on developing others that we forget to take time to consider if our own skills and knowledge are up to date and in prime condition.

We should regularly hold up a mirror to identify ways to address our own development needs.

People learn by different methods and organisations generally offer a wide range of learning tools and development methods, for example: internal and external courses, online and reading material.

Training budgets may be tight but what else can we do over and above traditional development methods and at low or no cost?

Here are five examples that have worked for myself and others:

Get out there

There are lots of free or low cost seminars and conferences around the UK but be selective. What are the key learning outcomes? What could you gain from attending? Who are the speakers? What's their background? The last thing you want is to be sitting in on a sales pitch.

Network with other attendees and pass around your business card, helping to build your own network that you can use as a sounding board and bounce ideas off.

Read lots

There's lots of good material out there in the World Wide Web but again be selective. If something grabs your interest, read it over a coffee or make use of your travel time to and from work. I've found the art of skim reading extremely helpful.

Who's supporting you?

We all know the benefits of coaching and mentoring, so identify someone and ask them to either coach or mentor you depending on your development needs.

Go outside of your comfort zone

This applies to both the working environment and outside of it. Doing something unfamiliar can provide you with more self-awareness and even test your resolve.

Be inquisitive in the work environment. Spend time in a completely different department - you will gain rich insight on how other people work, what they do and the environment in which they operate. It also demonstrates interest in their world and may be reciprocated.

It will build your awareness of skills and knowledge you knew little about: technology, sales, marketing, advertising, call centre operations etc. - basically, any functional specialism.

Sometimes we may need a push to do something different outside of our working environment. After all, life isn't just about all work and no play. Take the plunge and try something completely different. Spend the day with likeminded people. Being around others with such enthusiasm can be contagious. As the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest and can ignite creativity and innovation.

Pay It forward

Giving your time freely is one of the most honourable things you can do. There are so many local, national and international charities that will welcome your support. We build a fantastic network of people around us, so why not put that to good use by getting people together to use their specialism and give something back to the community? The feeling of self-worth and achievement can be incomparable.

For example, a charity needed help to modernise their digital presence. By bringing together a few people with skills in technology, design and communications, they were all able to implement a new website for the charity.

Decision-making was shared amongst everyone and people were able to experience different specialisms to learn how to create websites, design iconic images and write succinct website material. Sharing skills and knowledge with one another is often underutilised.

Catherine Rush (pictured) is head of talent at dmg media