Do you want to set and achieve professional development goals but don’t know where to begin?
Do you want to scale new heights as an outstanding professional in your industry?
I don’t imagine any pro worth his salt refuting this question. If you’re reading this article, it shows that you want to add to your current repertoire of skills and zealously pursue professional development goals.
Let’s be specific to the tech industry here, which is dynamic and always evolving at a good speed. The technology that seems trending today might be obsolete in a few days or a few months time.
The message to tech professionals is quite clear – you have to be on your toes all the time, take nothing for granted, and keep on working on improving yourself.
Imagine a scenario where a Roman warrior is fighting a war against contemporary enemies who are equipped with the latest arms and ammunition.
Do you think that the Roman warrior’s sword could help him survive against the barrage of bullets fired from automatic weapons?
You know the answer already. The same is the case with the dynamic tech industry. You have to upgrade your skills with time or else you stand the risk of losing out to pros who are better equipped than you, both in terms of knowledge and skills.
Let’s dig deep and find out what professional development is and how important a role it plays in your overall career.
Fasten your seat belts folks!
Table of Contents
- What is Professional Development?
- Why Do Businesses Need to Prioritize Continuous Employee Professional Development?
- Six Key Areas for the Professional Development of Employees
- Professional Development Goals to Work For
What is Professional Development?
Professional development, also referred to as employee professional development, is the process in which employees are provided with the necessary tools and training to enhance their skills and improve their knowledge.
Professional development encompasses training, learning, and certification that an employee undergoes to further progress in his/her career. Different types of jobs call for different skills.
Even if your employees are doing their job efficiently currently, they may need additional skills in the future. Professional development enables workers to learn new skills to become more competent, more efficient workers.
While the professional development of an employee does revolve around improving his/her skills for the job assigned, it is not the only objective.
Employee development also emphasizes employers’ encouragement to continued learning of employees by facilitating both internal and external learning opportunities.
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Why Do Businesses Need to Prioritize Continuous Employee Professional Development?
I’m sure most readers, who can also be business owners and managers, must have got goosebumps on reading the aforementioned statistic.
It clearly shows that your organization can pay a heavy price for underestimating the value of professional development for its workforce.
I’m not expecting you to adopt the same lackadaisical attitude.
Coming to professional development, we need to fully understand its value and significance in the context of the modern-day work environment.
You should know why (and how) helping employees not only benefits them but also your organization as a whole. Read on to know more about it.
- Helping employees learn new skills and polish their current competencies makes them better prepared to perform their role
- Professional development makes your employees more efficient, which directly results in the reduction of time wastage and an increase in productivity
- Continuous learning and development helps improve employee engagement, increase employees’ retention rate, and attract top talent
- Employee development programs allow companies to remain competitive with similar businesses and even outperform them
- A lack of career development is the top reason why employees leave their jobs
- Only 29% of employees are “satisfied” with current career advancement opportunities available within their organization
- Organizations that invest in professional development boast 24% higher profit margins
Now that you have a fair idea of what professional development brings to the table for both employers and employees, it’s high time that you consider this aspect seriously.
Imagine having a well-trained, flexible workforce with excellent work ethic and capabilities to resolve problems! It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Six Key Areas for the Professional Development of Employees
Even when your employees are putting up a good performance, there are always ways to make it better. Certain areas in professional development that can help your employees fine-tune their skills to be more productive and efficient in their roles.
Now, as a leader of the organization, how do you figure out the key areas for the professional development of your employees?
Every employee is unique. You need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of every team member before you go about planning a continuous learning program for them.
That said, some key professional development areas will help employees achieve better collaboration and performance, and help them develop empathy for team members.
Let’s take a look at six vital key areas for the professional development of employees.
Without collaboration, your workforce can’t be successful, as simple as that. Good collaboration is a prerequisite for every employee in the workplace.
Collaboration happens when your employees from varied backgrounds, working styles, skills, and behavior work in tandem to achieve a common organizational goal.
Collaboration can get more out of your employees as compared to when a person works in silos.
Some tried and tested tips to help your employees excel at collaboration are as follows:
- Create many opportunities for consensus and discussions
- Organize team-building activities for building camaraderie
- Building a transparent culture where employees support one another
- Encouraging clear and thoughtful communication
- Create cross-functional workgroups
2. Interpersonal Communication
The most crucial factor in any team is the ability of team members to communicate skillfully. Clear and concise communication is the soul of any team as well as the organization.
Even if the communication process within the organization seems efficient, every process tends to develop loopholes naturally. How can you make sure that the communication within your workforce is positive or negative?
Use these effective tips to make sure that the team communication is indeed driving unity and not the other way around.
- Identify and define the challenges to your team’s communication to figure out areas of improvement
- Set team communication goals to build mutual understanding and collaboration
- Set aside time for quick team meetings to help team members communicate regularly and effectively
- Use the right communication tools for exchanging different types of information, like video call, group chat, text, email, etc.
- Encourage active listening and respecting others’ views
- Allow every team member to lead and facilitate discussion
3. Conflict Resolution
Conflict among employees can happen in any organization, even in the most well-balanced teams. However, there are occasions when excess stress overwhelms employees and gives birth to conflicts and friction within the team.
Usually, the manager is responsible for settling conflicts, but if you train your workforce to handle and resolve tricky situations with finesse by themselves, it will benefit your organization in more ways than you can imagine.
Some disagreements between coworkers can be difficult to manage. If you cannot resolve them in time then you may consider implementing the following tips to get better results.
- Identify the main source of the conflict- why it took place
- Hold a discussion in a safe and quiet place away from the place where conflict happened
- Practice active listening and allow everyone to tell their side of the story
- Stay calm, patient, and create a plan to resolve the conflict
- Appreciate improvements made and celebrate progress
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4. Fostering Trust
Teams cannot thrive without mutual trust. Trust in an organization flows from top to bottom and vice versa.
Business owners should trust their managers that they will efficiently handle their teams and drive them towards achieving organizational goals. Managers, in turn, have to trust their teams that they will put in their best efforts even without supervision.
Employees have to trust their managers and business owners that the latter would support the former and give due importance to their needs and concerns.
Here are few proven tips to foster trust within your organization across all levels of hierarchy.
- Do not refrain from sharing constructive feedback
- Managers should take ownership of mistakes
- Get to know your employees beyond their job descriptions and day-to-day tasks
- Involve employees in decision-making
- Be transparent about the organization’s expectations from employees
- Recognize and give credit to employees where it’s due
You and your employees cannot expect to earn the trust of each other if you don’t establish yourself as an honest individual of high integrity in all business dealings.
Integrity in the workplace means that your employees are reliable and trustworthy with financial transactions of the organization, practice open and straightforward communication, and take responsibility for their actions.
Maintaining integrity at work becomes all the more important for employees holding senior positions. Given below are some tips for employees to demonstrate integrity in the workplace.
- Respect and adhere to company policies
- Willingness to work hard and also help others out
- Maintain professional conduct
- Improving work ethics
- Respecting the company’s property and others’ belongings
- Avoiding gossiping and false, misleading rumors within the organization
6. Organizational Efficiency
A good organization enables your employees to manage time smartly. When your workforce is organized, they’ll know what work they are supposed to do, whether individually or in group, by when the work is to be completed and submitted.
You can encourage and train your employees to prioritize tasks on the basis of importance and urgency. This will help them to focus on important tasks first and then attempt the remaining tasks that are low on priority.
Good organization is a practice that can positively affect every aspect of your job. When your paperwork, your electronic files or your input into a database or a task-tracking program are in order, you will probably be prepared to answer any questions that may arise and help keep yourself on task.
Here are some tips to keep your work organized:
- Use a top-rated project management software with inbuilt task management and time-tracking functionality
- Eliminate distractions from the workplace
- Review your daily priorities daily before you start your work
- Schedule time for everything; work, tea breaks, browsing social media on your phone
- Use calendars and planners
Professional Development Goals to Work For
Setting professional development goals is an important phase as it helps your employees fast-track their careers.
Not all your employees will have the same development goals. Some would want to be more productive, some would want to add new skills, while others would want to have more senior positions within their company.
There’s only one way to achieve set goals and that is to create and follow a concrete, actionable plan. Your employees should be clear in their heads about what goals they want to achieve.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help them with goal-setting. By identifying every employee’s unique strengths, you can work with them to mark out areas where they can improve.
Given below are some of the most useful professional development goals for employees that can reap them great benefits at work.
Let’s get started.
1. Add A New Skill
It’s quite possible that some of your employees might think that they know it all. However, the reality is that Mr.perfectionists are mainly found in movies. There’s always a scope of improvement and learning is a never ending process.
As more organizations continue to embrace technology to bring efficiency to their operations, your employees should also equip themselves with the required knowledge and skills to use the latest tools to get more done in less time.
For example, if your organization wants to change manual data entries to digital mode, your employees will have to first learn to use the new software that is designed and created specifically to automate manual processes.
2. Enhance Communication Skills
Every organization, small or large, has a few employees who are excellent at what they do but the lack of communication skills is holding them back in their careers. They are efficient but lack executive presence or visibility, according to the management.
Excellent communication skills are one of the most essential skills required for employees to be considered for elevation to more senior positions. Hence, your organization can schedule “communication improvement workshops” for improving communication skills of such employees.
Improved communication will help your employees to have better self-confidence and presentation skills, two skills that are quintessential to climb the growth ladder.
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3. Working On Shortcomings
There’s no such thing as flawless employees. You may have employees who meet most of your requirements of what an ideal employee should be like, but it’s likely that they have some grey areas to work on. Professional development is not only about working on your strengths but on weaknesses too.
Assess your employees’ weaknesses and discuss it with them. Do they accept they have a weakness at all? Do they want to work on it to improve their overall performance?
Every employee is different and they might need to work on different areas. Not all weaknesses are performance-related. Some employees might find it difficult to communicate with seniors, some might be having time management issues, some might lack coordination skills, and some might need to sharpen their skillset.
By providing your employees with the latest tools and equipment, on-job training, and organizing workshops for developing personal skills, your organization can show them that you are seriously committed to their personal and professional growth.
4. Time Management
The importance of time management in the workplace cannot be emphasized enough. Organizations where employees utilize time effectively register more productivity, output, and revenue. There are some employees who miss deadlines and are low on productivity.
As a leader, you should recognize such employees and make sure that they learn to manage time smartly. One effective way of enabling employees to make the most of available time is by using an accurate and reliable time tracking tool inbuilt in a leading project management and team collaboration software- ProofHub.
Here’s how your employees can make every minute count with this tool.
- Add timesheets
- Set time estimates
- Track time manually or using timers
- Create custom time reports
- Export and Archive timesheets
5. Improving Work-Life Balance
Having a healthy work-life balance is important for the overall well-being of an employee. Crossing the line and working beyond scheduled hours can make your workforce vulnerable to potential burnout.
However, responsible organizations and experienced leaders understand how to ensure their employees can lead a happy and productive lifestyle. That said, there are some employees who struggle to draw a fine line between their work and their personal life.
You can implement certain tactics to help such employees to prevent burnout of your employees. Check out these tactics below.
- Ask your employees to regularly stick to an 8-hour working day and not to take work to home
- Do not give in to the temptation of checking work emails on their day off
- Attempt high-priority tasks first so they can be completed on time or before it
- Delegate tasks as and when required
- Improve time management
Wrapping it Up
When considering your long-term career ambitions, keep in mind that your professional development goals will play a major role in serving as a ladder to achieve new heights.
Your professional development goals should be SMART i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of professional development goals, setting small targets enables you to progress toward achieving the main goal.
Remember that a goal without a plan is just a wish!
I hope this article gives a kick to your thinking and inspires you to set and follow some progressive goals to make you a more productive and successful pro in your respective industry.