The Importance of Continued Professional Development
19 Aug, 2019
Many make the assumption that learning and development either slow down or stop after earning an undergraduate and/or graduate degree. But this would be a mistake because learning and professional development is a lifelong endeavor. Businesses everywhere would benefit from having a mentality that places importance on continued professional development and education.
In this article, we are going to help you learn about employee development plans, how to formulate individual development plans, and how to develop an effective employee training program. Continue reading to get valuable information and advice on using continued professional development and looking at areas of improvement as one of your core business strategies.
Why Continued Professional Development is Important
A continued professional development plan can bring numerous benefits to your business; it provides employees with clear direction on development objectives, helps them learn how to increase their skills, and even advance in their careers as a result.
When employees are freed to expand their skill set, they not only feel more appreciated, but it further equips your business with tools that can help you accomplish goals and even set new goals.
Putting effort into employee development can also save you time and money on recruiting, onboarding, training consultants and hiring new employees. Creating clear professional growth plans with individual employees can also help you retain the most talented people for the benefit of your business.
How to Create an Individual Employee Growth Plan
There are some missteps you want to avoid when developing an effective employee training program. For example, something that employers often get wrong is making assumptions about the skill level of their employees and what they want their career trajectory to be. It’s important to make sure that individual employees remain the focus of their growth plan, because therein lies the key to retainment. If people feel forced into a certain career trajectory, they may not feel appreciated, and as a result, want to leave for another job.
Here are some of the most important steps in creating a scalable employee growth plan in your business:
Have a ‘Discovery’ Meeting with Individual Employees
Depending on the size of your business, make sure to institute a discovery meeting specifically to create an individual employee growth plan. Get answers to questions like:
- What are your career aspirations?
- How do you currently feel about your work?
- Are there any challenges you are currently facing?
- What are some skills you do not have that you would like to learn?
For example, an employee may be great at their social media marketing duties but have aspirations to become a manager or director one day. Then, you can work toward a plan that would give them more experience in leadership and project management.
By having this meeting you can work with employees to discover how your business can help facilitate the growth that they’re looking for.
Find Flexible Ways to Help Employees Learn
Employee development plans do not have to cost your business a lot of money. In fact, growth and learning can take on multiple forms, such as:
- Paying an affordable subscription for access to numerous online courses.
- Having an employee spend dedicated time each week learning a skill from another employee.
- Assigning employees “stretch” projects and/or assignments
- Attending a local networking group
- Taking on “bite-size” responsibilities for the next role the employee wants.
These options give employees multiple avenues through which to grow and can also help you train and hire from within.
Once you have spoken with your employees about growth and established viable avenues to make room for that growth, set up a plan with specific and timely goals. We highly recommend using OKRs. Using a system like this helps you establish goals that are specific and measurable. That way, you can set deadlines and avoid vague growth goals that don’t actually facilitate the growth. Here are some important items to consider:
Set timelines & clear goals
Think about the length of time it is going to take to put an employee growth plan into action and what specific, measurable goals you want to set for progress. Ask questions like:
- Is there any prep work employees need to accomplish?
- Are there any additional parties involved?
- Will time need to be taken from current daily work or additional time spent outside of work?
- Does the employee need someone else to help take on their responsibilities while they train?
- What should markers for progress be?
- What are the key dates when milestones should be reached?
- What are both the short- and long-term objectives?
- Should a calendar be set up to help the employee stay organized?
Coming up with a solid schedule and a reliable set of goals will help hold both managers and employees be accountable in working toward growth. Doing this also helps employees to be clear on what is expected of them
How to Set Individual Goals with Heartpace
Heartpaces’ goal system and performance management software will get you exactly where you need to go in terms of tracking employee growth and coming up with plans.
You can simplify the performance management process within your company with our time-saving review process, easy “touchpoints”, and capabilities for ongoing feedback. You even have access to a personal evaluations feature—giving you a streamlined way to look at growth plan progress!
Heartpace works seamlessly with HR systems you may currently have in place. Namely, you can regulate and monitor your pay scale and run gender pay gap analyses, run reports, receive personalized insights, and visualizations. You can also create tailored job evaluations and employee roadmaps to coincide with individual development plans.
Tracking Ongoing Progress with Manager
If you need a little push to get started on coming up with an effective employee training program, you can access our Template Library (for free!) to get started with formulating a plan so you don’t lose time in laying the groundwork. Also included with this are one on one development talks.
We hope this article has helped you come to a better understanding of the importance of employee development and how to develop an effective employee training program. But not only do we hope you’ve understood the impact an individual employee development plan can have on the bottom line of your business, but also the well being of your employees and their satisfaction.
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