Professional development is crucial to an individual’s growth. What you can create and do in your professional career depends on the capacity you hold in relation to your education, knowledge, and skills. No matter how broad this capacity is, there is always room to increase your capabilities. Take this as your sign to invest in your professional development.
So what is professional development, what are the signs that you need to invest in professional development and why is it worth your valuable time and money?
Professional development refers to professional learning through the means of attending conferences, self-help books, online courses, professional development programs or even internal workshops. Basically, it’s any type of activity that advances your knowledge and skills, continuing education past the point of a team members induction and encouraging consistent professional growth.
Larger organisations place a higher focus on professional development than SME’s, however if you are proactive, there are several free resources at your disposal to ensure you stay professionally engaged.
Job satisfaction and employee retention rates rise when employees are confident in their ability to do their jobs well. When they are trained extensively in how to do their jobs effectively, they are often happier, meaning they are more likely to want to stick with the organization longer. When they do not go looking for job satisfaction at other organizations, you don’t have to spend money on hiring, on boarding, and training their replacements.
It’s impossible for you to help your organisation if you aren’t growing. If you’re able to stay up to date on trending ideas and avenues for investment you can provide insight to your peers and give your organisation a competitive edge to other businesses.
Making investing in professional development a priority is one of the first things you should do, just as Benjamin Hardy, the author of Willpower Doesn’t Work recommends. He says, among other things, that you spend 80% of your non-work time learning and improving yourself.
How to invest in professional development
The most efficient way to invest in professional learning and development is to set out a Professional Development Plan. You can do this by identifying what you want to achieve from investing your time into these resources. Eg; to learn, up-skill, network or relearn.
S – Specific. Be sure about what your goal is. If you are not sure, get your focus narrowed before you move to the next step. Know when, where and how you plan to achieve your goal.
M– Measurable. Your goal should be measurable, hence you set the expected quantity, quality or result in your goal so you can be sure that it has been achieved.
A – Attainable. If you set goals that are impossible to achieve, you will end up with disappointment and frustration which can take your career backward. Check your professional development plan resources and support system to find those that support your venture.
R– Relevant. Let your professional development goal be relevant to the career path you have chosen.
T–Time Based. Do not set vague goals that you plan you achieve in your future. That is never going to happen. Set a definite time-period within which you plan to achieve your goals.
Your goal as an employer should be to create a workplace environment that encourages continual learning and provide professional development opportunities for your staff. Encourage employees to attend training, read professional magazines and books, attend webinars, and otherwise learn as much as they can.
However, it is important to be mindful not to overload your team with work as this could lead them to feel overwhelmed and find it hard to achieve a healthy work life balance. A good way to approach this is to provide your team learning opportunities and have them approach them at their own pace.
Coaching is the powerhouse when it comes to professional development. If you can not find a leader within your organisation to guide your professional development, look outside.
Thanks to technology, there are a number of books, blogs, and free webinars and training programs that are widely available on pretty much every topic you can imagine.
Take accountability for your own success. If you make the right investment in your professional development plan, you will add credibility to your personal brand, thus increasing your marketability not just within your company but outside of your company as well.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “if a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
When you put your potential, skill, and enthusiasm together, possibilities open their doors for you automatically. The investment you make in your professional development is a strong investment you make in yourself.