Continuing competence (Part 2)

In the last post I looked at where you should start with the new continuing competence regime in UK law firms: what the regime is and how you can investigate what your current knowledge needs are.

This time, I look at ways to identify your training needs and match the potential resources to them and plan yourself a training programme.

If you have finished the homework in the previous post, you should now have a better idea of:

  1. The areas of knowledge which you need to develop
    1. hard and soft skills (technical writing, understanding clients and client care, systems thinking, presentations, networking, sales, leadership, team-working etc)
    2. technical knowledge (your field of expertise, related technical fields and business knowledge)
    3. “know who” (understanding how you are connected to others, where you can go for different kinds of knowledge and help, and how you can improve your network)
  2. Your preferred modes of learning for different gaps in knowledge, in different settings
  3. Different tools and resources for learning

Training PlanTo develop your personal training plan, you firstly need to understand which are the areas for priority in your learning, then you can plan your training to match your needs.

Were there any areas which you identified during your month-long personal reflection diary which were obviously an urgent need? If not, were there any areas which related to key competencies for your role? You can always check these against your job description if you need to, but most people will have a good idea what knowledge is important for their role. If you are struggling, you could ask your boss what makes certain fee earners stand out, or ask your peers or friends in a similar role in different firms.

You need to think about

  1. areas where you need to learn new skills or fill in clear gaps in technical knowledge
  2. areas where your technical knowledge and skills are OK, but some time spent on considering, say, processes and  obtaining a fresh viewpoint would help deepen your knowledge or help you to question norms to find a better way of practising
  3. ways you can make your new knowledge stick and ways you can help others learn

Identify gaps in knowledge which are easy to fix and those which are more difficult to fix.

Also identify those gaps which are less important, but easy to fix.

Once you have identified these parameters, you can draw up a training plan which covers a balance of skills, technical knowledge and “know who”, but which focuses on matters which are critical to your work. Sprinkle the “easy-to-fix” matters with a small number of “difficult-to-fix” matters.

Make sure you identify learning resources to suit the need: you can begin to learn skills through books/lectures/webinars/MOOCs, but you will need to practice those skills soon after to consolidate what you’ve learned and build on that knowledge with your own experiences. Mentoring, job-shadowing and supervision can be a great resource for consolidating skills. Secondments, job rotations, random conversation/connection programmes (such as the RCT) and investigating areas outside your usual role will help you widen your knowledge and perspective, and question norms, to find a smarter way of practising. Consider attending a conference or training event on a field of interest, but outside your practice area. Also, don’t give up on your learning diary, as constant reflection will help you to consolidate and refine your learning.

In summary:

  • identify gaps in knowledge – technical knowledge, skills (hard and soft), and “know who”
  • identify resources which suit your learning style, setting and the knowledge gap itself
  • create a list of priorities
  • ensure learning is consolidated through action
  • pass on the benefits of your new knowledge through helping others

Lastly, although you should continue to use your learning diary daily/regularly, also diarise to review your programme in 6 months time and ask yourself how it is progressing. Is it delivering what you need it to? Is your knowledge widening and deepening in a way that is improving your practice? If not, review both these articles and work out what is missing, and change things.

And let me know how it all goes. Good luck!

For a free template and download click here.

If your firm would like to know more about the new learning regime and in particular reflective learning, I offer in-house training sessions on  the topic and other KM and learning topics.

For affordable regional learning through presentation, questioning and conversation, consider a group such as Knowledge Network UK, which offers quality specialist training for Knowledge Professionals in Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester, UK.

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Glad to be a Learning Ambassador, helping Bristol’s Learning City. More here.

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About knowledge4lawyers

I am a lawyer and a Knowledge Management expert. Through The Knowledge Business I help law firms improve their efficiency and profitability through knowledge services - consultancy, training and implementation help.
This entry was posted in Personal Knowledge Management, Training and learning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Continuing competence (Part 2)

  1. “You must unlearn what you have learned.”
    – Yoda

    Helen

    I think Master Yoda’s quote should be pinned above every lawyers’ desk. I don’t say this to be tendentious (mischievous perhaps) but as well heaping great gobs of new stuff on their shoulders, they would do well to develop an EI mindset and get rid of so much of the stereotypical baggage that holds them back – “I’m a lawyer [fill in the blank]”.

    Kind regards
    Julian

  2. Julian, you (and Yoda) are completely right. Other sectors have woken up to the importance of agility and cycles of continuous improvement and lawyers need to as well.
    And it doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s about being open-minded, curious/questioning and willing to change – always asking “What can I do better?”
    Enjoyed your (related!) post about hedgehog syndrome https://juliansummerhayes.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/lawyers-the-hedgehog-syndrome/

  3. Pingback: Continuing competence? Getting started… (1) | Knowledge for Lawyers

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