Help Your Employees Shine With a Professional Development Strategy

Are your staff on a professional development plan? If not, it’s likely to be the missing link between staff retention and higher productivity.

This article defines a professional development strategy and the process you’d go through as a business to get to customise it for your staff.

What Is A Professional Development Strategy?

A Professional Development Strategy (PDS), aka professional development plan, is a detailed roadmap or blueprint of how a person intends to reach their professional goals, i.e. progress in their career.

A PDS includes short-term and long-term goals and the skills or other attributes needed to achieve the desired objectives. There are no definitive rules for a PDS, rather more guidelines to assist in its development.

Business owners or managers can assist their staff by creating the PDS with them.

Company Culture

Whenever a business introduces a new process for staff to adhere to, it requires their buy-in.

If management uses a heavy-handed approach, not only will some staff push back on it, their reluctance to participate may rub off onto all the team, making it much harder to get the process on board.

Therefore before implementing the professional development plan, seek to understand staff sentiment about your business, management and each other.

Team building events

restaurant

To find out if all is well with your staff, show them how much they mean to your business. Host fun team-building activities, for example, playing games, having a BBQ or picnic or going out for dinner.

Team bonding events are more challenging in the age of remote work; however, they’re not impossible. For example, you might want to check out this virtual happy hour idea. Don’t let the fact that you’re not in the same place prevent you from building camaraderie among your team members.

Once you’re satisfied, your staff are ready for collaboration and enthusiastic about being part of something new, i.e. the professional development plan.

The timing is right to create it for each worker. It’s an essential and often overlooked element of professional development that not all staff are part of. Show your team that irrespective of their role, they are integral to the business, and that’s why they all have their own customized professional development plan.

What’s In A Professional Development Plan?

A Professional Development Plan has topics including:

  • Company and personal value statements
  • Job description
  • Goals – long, medium and short term
  • Skills
  • Training, education

Goals

Significantly few people set goals, let alone work hard to achieve them.

Start off your PDS with an introduction to the value of smart decision making to create professional and personal goals.

Set aside time to meet with each of your employees one-on-one and, in the first meeting, provide an overview of why a professional development strategy is fundamental. Where are they going in their careers and roles within the company?

The PDS will reveal and identify what’s doable and in what timeframe. The PDS starts with goal-setting, so forewarn your staff to bring their ideas on what they want to achieve.

During the goal-setting meetings, listen to their goals and provide some feedback and suggestions. Then talk with them about steps they can take to reach that goal, including setting milestones which can be their mid and short term personal and career goals.

Training & education

To progress professionally, many employees need to acquire new skills or knowledge.

To help them grow, you can provide some in-house company training.

Plus, external seminars or training sessions related to skills your employees may want to acquire through your business. Since it’s often time-consuming and costly to develop these skills outside of work, allowing your employees to do this during work hours and for free will certainly be appreciated.  For example, it’s usual for companies to support staff through a masters programme like an MBA.

Connections & Networks

A great way to assist your employees is by helping them make connections. For example, if you know someone hiring for a position that’s a goal of one of your employees, you can refer them. Yes, this may mean that they leave your organization.

However, helping people to succeed is generally better for your business in the long term. Whenever you think two people might benefit one another, make an effort to connect them.

Regular Meetings

Lastly, schedule regular meetings with your employees to get updates. See how they are progressing towards their goals and if they need any more assistance. Scheduling these regular meetings demonstrates that you are taking an active and ongoing interest in their professional development.

However, keep in mind that some people are happy with their current positions and not developing. Consider making these meetings optional, allowing those who wish for a more hands-on approach from you to have it.

Employee Growth Leads to Business Growth

As a business owner or manager, one of the best things you can do is help your employees grow. This benefits your business in two ways. First, it gives you more capable employees. It’s hard to find great people for your business and to get them to stick around.

If you can develop these employees, though, you’ll have the amazing employees you’ve been searching for.

Second, helping your employees grow makes them happier. Employees like it when the business they are working for takes an interest in their long-term growth. They are then more likely to produce better work and remain loyal to the company.

To help your employees with this professional growth, try helping them create a professional development plan.

Helping your employees grow professionally can only help your business.

If your employees don’t already have a professional development strategy, start setting aside some time to help them develop one. They will appreciate the assistance from upper management, and your business will appreciate having stronger, happier employees.

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