With 2017 just underway, attention turns to New Year’s resolutions. For many members, professional development will be a key area of focus: What should I be working on this year to contribute most to the boards I am on and the organisations I govern?

With the number of topics directors and executives need to be across and the challenge of their responsibilities being greater than ever, it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin to develop the skills that will make the year a successful one.

Marcel Mol, General Manager of Education for the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), believes that the most important step is to benchmark current capabilities so that members can understand exactly where they can make the most progress in the most efficient manner.

“Professional development is expensive and it is time consuming. Therefore it is important that members choose the right course for the right reasons. This will enable them to maximise their investment, both of their money and time,” he said.

“Some will say their professional development is an opportunity to accelerate their strengths to maximise what makes them unique. Others might want to focus on areas of development and make sure that there are no shortcomings.”

To allow members to do this easily, the AICD provides members with the complimentary Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) to help in analysing their current strengths and areas for development.

“Different people will take different approaches. Some will say their professional development is an opportunity to accelerate their strengths to maximise what makes them unique. Others might want to focus on areas of development and make sure that there are no shortcomings in their director or executive skillset,” according to Mol. “The SAT gives them a unique opportunity to do both of those things. It will highlight the capabilities where members have both strengths and area for development relative to their peers.”

When setting goals, objectives, or resolutions at the start of the year, it helps for them to be clear and measurable. The SAT provides a framework for members to do this with their professional development. It homes in on the areas that need work and allows members to track their progress in strengthening those capabilities over the course of the year.

The SAT, which takes about 20 minutes to complete, comprises approximately 120 capability statements against which members rate themselves. Once completed, it provides a real-time, customised report that presents a comprehensive learning pathway. The SAT is unique in allowing members to benchmark their capabilities against peers in the director community, highlighting exactly those areas where they would gain the most from actively pursuing development opportunities.

As well as benchmarking, members can use the SAT to track their own progress against their development goals over time. The SAT, when completed after an interval, lets members check how their professional development is faring, just as regular reporting allows a board to see if an organisation is on track.

“If a member completes the SAT again, six months after doing it for the first time, it should show key areas where capability has developed,” Mol said.

For more information on the SAT or to complete your self-assessment, click here.