As the famous American author, salesman, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.”
Every manager or business owner knows that taking the time to develop the skill set of your employees not only makes their contribution greater to the business, it also makes them less likely to jump ship if they feel they’re evolving. A 2018 LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report stated that a whopping 94% of employees would stay longer at a company if it invested in their careers.
Below we run through a simple what and how to plan for staff professional development if you are starting out.
What is professional development?
In a nutshell, professional development means the continued training and education of an individual in regards to his or her career.
In reality, however, the term can mean anything from undertaking a new course, diversifying duties and taking on extra challenges, through to getting the opportunity to work with emerging technologies and even achieving a better work-life balance.
The key to implementing professional development within your workplace is to first define what each employee’s professional goals are, and then create a plan that not only satisfies these individual goals but also work to achieve your business objectives.
How to help staff identify their professional goals?
Work with your employees to answer the following questions to help them recognise and articulate their professional goals.
- What do I want to learn?
- What do I have to do to gain these skills?
- What support and resources will I need?
- How will I measure success?
- When is the target date for review?
How to create a professional development plan for staff?
How you implement professional development will depend on the nature of each individual’s goals and preferred style of learning. In all cases however, the best starting point is to map out a plan on paper, using the answers to the questions above.
When writing their professional development plan, staff should be looking towards the coming quarter at the very least. But considering many skills take more than three months to master, an annual plan broken down into quarterly segments is more ideal.
When these goals are documented, they keep both you and your staff accountable, and progress can be monitored.
How to help staff to achieve their development goals?
As a manager, there are a number of ways you can offer your staff support in achieving their professional goals.
- Show an interest – make time for regular meetings with team members and review how staff is tracking in achieving their goals. These are valuable opportunities for staff to express aspirations, expectations, and frustrations.
- Provide resources to make goals achievable – as a manager, it’s your role to help Identify and supply appropriate resources that help our employees achieve their goals, which could include time, money, coaching and mentoring, technology and training.
- Help staff identify and then negotiate any barriers that may prevent them from achieving their goals.
- Set time parameters for staff, indicating how long each goal should take to achieve.
- Help your staff clearly define success – define what does the successful completion of their professional development goals look like for them and your business.
How to ensure professional development supports your business?
Professional development should be a win-win for business. It’s one thing to promote a happier, wiser workplace, but ideally, your up-skilled employees should be contributing to your organisation’s overall productivity and strategic goals.
To make sure this happens, managers and business owners need to create their own professional development strategy by following these simple steps:
- Define the future – define what’s your company’s vision and mission, set S.M.A.R.T goals to give you structure and guidance.
- Highlight the gaps in your team’s skills, knowledge, and abilities that will prevent you from achieving these goals.
- Set strategic development objectives – in other words, what training and development will be needed to fill these gaps.
- Communicate training purpose and objectives – make sure your team understands how they can contribute to your business goals.
- Deliver great training – from evening courses to eLearning and team building workshops, make sure the training you choose for staff is engaging, accessible, convenient and targeted.
- Support learning in the workplace – create a workplace culture that supports continuous learning, and actively encourage employees to practice their new skills.
- Measure and repeat – evaluate the change and/or improvement in your employees’ performances and measure how much closer your business is to achieving its strategic goals. Then with new areas of improvement in mind, return to step number 1.
The math is simple – the potential loss of dollars invested in employee development pales in comparison to the productivity loss inflicted by a mediocre workforce and unmotivated staff. Put these professional development steps into practice for your staff and watch your business reap the rewards.