Professional development is a term widely used in the workplace today yet is often one most often misunderstood by both employees and employers. Investing in professional development is a great way for both you and the company you work for to grow together for the long term.

Professional Development Importance in the Workplace

Understanding how to work with your company to build a solid professional development plan for yourself is a crucial skill to have and one that will not only improve your employability but also help your employer keep up with the breakneck speed of changes that happen in the business world.

Differences Between Training and Professional Learning

Woman teaching two colleagues in front of white boardWhen you first begin a role at a new company, you’ll likely receive some form of training in order to perform your role. While training is essential to help you complete day-to-day work, it doesn’t replace the need for proper development plans. Here’s why:

Present vs. Future

Simply put, what training does is help you fulfill a certain gap within the company at present, while professional development skills help you and your employer grow for the future. This is a key difference and one that’s often overlooked in the workplace.

Continuous Development

While training stops once you’ve learned how to perform certain functions within your role, professional development programs should be continuous and ever-changing. The world is constantly changing with new tools, philosophies and ways of working being developed daily. Businesses need to adapt, and having a development plan for yourself can help you stay up-to-date and avoid stagnating and leaving behind when these changes happen.

Decide Your Own Path

Training for a role follows a predetermined path and often focuses on specific skills given to you by your company. A development plan, on the other hand, looks at future possibilities and is a conversation between you and your employer to see where you can grow and how you can benefit the organization as it continues to grow.

Professional Development Ideas

There’s no one way to create a development plan – do what’s right for you. Depending on your schedule, personality and preferred way of learning the way you’d want to tailor your development plan can differ greatly from one person to the next. Here are a few professional development examples to help you get started:

Team collaborating together on professional development

Formal Learning Opportunities

Formal education doesn’t have to end once you’ve attained your desired role. Seeking out organizations that provide advanced training in your chosen field is a simple but tried and true way of investing in your professional development. The good thing about this type of training is that you’ll often get the full package, learning about the latest tools, trends and techniques in your industry.

Micro-Learning Programs

On the other hand, certain development plans, often called micro-learning programs, focus on a singular idea or concept rather than teaching you a bunch of things at once. This kind of learning can be perfect for those who like to work on one skill at a time or simply have a hectic schedule and can only squeeze in some learning every now and again. There’s a huge range of online courses that provide this type of laser-focused training – something worth looking into.

Lunch and Learn Programs

Seeking out experts in your company and setting up lunch and learn programs can be a great way to introduce professional development in your workplace, especially with the added convenience of online learning and tools it’s easy to hop on a call together and explore certain subjects.

Professional Tips from VOC Associates

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