Let’s talk professional development. What is it?
Professional development is defined as learning to earn or maintain professional credentials, knowledge or skills which can be used for your own personal development and career progression. There are many different approaches to professional development however for most, it starts at school, college or university where your typical classroom based learning takes place and you might find yourself engaging in lesson study, reflective practice or peer reviews.
Other approaches to professional development may be by consultation, assisting individuals to be able to address immediate issues quickly by following a problem solving process. There is also mentoring whereby you provide and recommend new opportunities to others. Coaching, is a very popular skill obtained by middle management who have a specific appetite for development. To coach is to be able to enhance someone’s skillset through observation, reflection and action and can be beneficial to both involved. The social aspects from attending a conference or presentation may be more valuable than the actual knowledge provided. Learning how to professionally interact with others is something best learned ‘on the job’ and to develop these social skills could become crucial to progressing further along your career path.
Does your organisation understand what professional development is? Do they know the difference between professional development and training?
Professional development in your organisation should start with a long term career plan for every employee. Reference to employee growth should be made during the on boarding process and continued through to the new starters induction. The correct environment to engage an individual’s professional development should be clearly mapped out and implemented with the help of a calm, effective manager. They should support and encourage growth within the organisation and guide the individual along the road of improvement.
The valuable employees to a business are the ones who seek out their own additional opportunities to learn. Continuous learning such as gaining new qualifications or skills will help present an individual with new opportunities leading to improving their own career and future. Employees should provide support positively. Employee and employer responsibilities go both ways. Managers should be able to provide their staff with a variety of solutions and ways to show their support. The evaluative stage of professional development could see an employee’s position within the organisation improved through securing a new positive skill set.
Professional development is not training and training isn’t professional development. Training is the action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behaviour. Employees can be trained for a career by receiving an education or learning a trade. After that, any type of training should be included within the professional portfolio.
Is a presentation on bullying and harassment or completing an online survey on equality and diversity really forming part of an employee’s career growth? The answer is yes, they should be mandatory to take during the induction into a new organisation. However they are not part of someone’s individual professional development nor are they seen as training, more of an indicator into ones moral compass.
Effective professional development requires an element of training for career progression but not that alone. A combination of different approaches is the most effective.
Organisations should adopt the best method and attitude towards helping individuals learn and grow within, as well as outside the business. By continually exploring and learning new aspects of your profession you become professional! Therefore an employee should take on board this responsibility for their own professional development.
Enjoy your professional development journey