Professional development can be so beneficial for your organization. It increases employee retention, productivity and buy in while closing skill gaps and supporting the bottom line. But implementing a professional development program just for the sake of saying your organization has one isn’t going to cut it.
So how do you implement a professional development program that pays off in the long run?
Professional development should not refer to a blanket, one-size fits all approach. Instead, it should address the specific needs and goals within your organization. Spend the time to research what areas and topics will empower your employees to engage in deep problem solving that will power your organization forward. Specifically, turn to your team to understand what knowledge would help them to support the organizational goals.
If your goal is to improve productivity within cross-functional teams, everyone should engage in material about goal setting and communication. In addition to this organization-wide content, your customer success team may be served by learning to predict member churn while your marketing team would benefit by learning to harness LinkedIn for B2B advertising. With an understanding of your goals and your team’s needs, you will be able to design a program that supports both individual and organizational growth.
Strong professional development programs are ones that offer continual development. They are not a month-long initiative geared toward a short-term goal. They are a way to provide your employees with the opportunity to grow within their role and within the organization. This means that your organization will need to continue to prioritize learning while ensuring that your professional development program is able to evolve with the needs of your team.
Really, from your c-suite to your volunteers. After all, what does it communicate to your team if your professional development program only exists on the leadership level, but not for managers or associate-level employees? By providing opportunities to everyone within your organization, you facilitate growth on every level. This promotes open communication, drives innovation and creates the necessary buy-in to achieve organizational goals.
Your team’s level of engagement in professional development is a large determinant of how much they adopt these learnings in their day-to-day work, and to be frank, how many of us find lectures or videos all that engaging?
While considering what your professional development program will look like, consider implementing a variety of formats including:
Odds are, your team is already busy. So how are they going to jump feet-first into professional development? You as an organization need to prioritize learning by creating the time and space for it to happen.
The purpose of having a professional development program is to affect change. So did it work? Before your program is in place, you should have an idea of how you’re going to measure its ongoing success. These measurements should be both specific to your organizational goals and to the impact on your team. Are you seeing an improvement in productivity? Are employees more engaged? Are you seeing less turnover? Does your team feel like the program is helpful?
Since there should not be an end date to your program, these evaluations should occur regularly and on an ongoing schedule. By knowing what to ask, you can prepare yourself to make necessary changes as your goals and needs change and grow.
Having a professional development program for the sake of having one is a waste of resources and ultimately a disservice to your team and your members. Taking a strategic approach to your implementation can make all the difference. By focusing on your organizational goals and designing around your team’s needs, you set yourself up to support continued growth.
Julia DeBell joined Sidecar in 2022 as marketing associate. Through email, social media and website management, she supports the reach of impactful content and the growth of the Sidecar community. When she's not working, she's out enjoying the sunshine.
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