As a career professional, I have experience in different roles: I’m an employee, a self-employed professional, and a former manager. In each of these roles, I’ve learned the value of investing in myself and my team through professional development. Professional development is not just about gaining new skills and knowledge, but also about boosting our morale, productivity and loyalty.
Professional development is also the key I feel to unlocking our full potential in the workplace. It’s the continuous process of enhancing our abilities to perform better in our current role or to take on new challenges in a different role. It’s also the way we keep up with the changing demands and opportunities of our industry. I found that with my team – everyone was different. They wanted to access learning in different ways to suit their needs, aspirations and commitments, and so its important to remember that professional development can take many forms, from formal courses and certifications to degrees and mentorship programmes. Just reading articles and books, or and listening informal podcasts on our travels can get us into new learning and development . The important thing is to find the learning opportunities that suit our needs and interests, and to maybe track our progress and achievements (to give us that all important boost).
Unlocking workplace potential
Professional development is beneficial for both employees and employers. Here are some of the reasons why from research:
- For employees, professional development can help us become more dynamic and adaptable, setting us up for continued success in our careers. It can also increase our confidence, productivity, and job satisfaction. Moreover, it can enhance our career prospects, as we can demonstrate our expertise and initiative to potential employers or clients.
- For employers, professional development can help them reduce employee turnover, as employees feel more supported and engaged in their work. It can also attract and retain talented employees, who are looking for opportunities to grow and learn. The amount of fantastically qualified speculative candidates that contacted me because of the focus on training and support was incredible. Furthermore, it can create a culture of ongoing learning and growth, which can foster innovation and collaboration.
As a career professional, I fully believe in the concept, benefits and best practices of professional development in the workplace. It is important to create a culture of ongoing learning and growth for yourself as a leader and your team. As I have worked a lifetime in career development, I want to share with you some of the best practices for implementing professional development plans in your workplace or for yourself. These are all based on my own experience and research:
- Start with thinking about what a clear goal might look like (you don’t need actual clear goals): What do you want to achieve through professional development? What skills or knowledge do you want to improve or acquire? How will you measure your progress and success?
- Identify your learning needs: What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the gaps in your skills or knowledge? What are the opportunities or challenges in your industry or role?
- Choose your learning methods: What are the best ways for you to learn? Do you prefer online courses, workshops, webinars, podcasts, books, articles, videos, etc.? Do you learn better by yourself or with others?
- Create a learning plan: How will you organise your learning activities? How much time and resources can you allocate for each activity? How will you balance your learning with your work and personal life?
- Seek feedback and support: Who can help you with your learning goals? Do you have a mentor, coach, peer group, manager, etc.? How will you communicate with them? How will you ask for feedback or guidance?
- Review and reflect: How will you evaluate your learning outcomes? How will you apply what you learned to your work or personal life? How will you celebrate your achievements? How will you identify areas for improvement?
Ever-changing professional landscape
Personally, I feel that in today’s ever-changing world, professional development is not just a good idea, but a necessity. It’s an ongoing process of acquiring and refining knowledge and skills to enhance one’s professional competence and stay relevant in the workforce. It’s like a ‘continuous upgrade’ to our professional software. I truly think it’s the best investment in ourselves and our teams.
To talk to us about career development; get in touch.
Blog by Dr Naeema Pasha