You’ve finished your degree. Check.
You’ve completed all your practical experience requirements so that you can graduate. Check.
Your new job is all lined up and ready to go. Mission accomplished.
It’s fair to say the first part of your mission is well and truly accomplished. Sit back and give yourself a pat on the back. But don’t take too long about it or you’ll be lagging behind your colleagues. The same is true for professionals with many years’ experience in the workplace. YOU were behind your ability to get through school ad land that job, so don’t give up being a part of your continued education (aka Professional Development).
Continuing Professional Development is important because it ensures you continue to be competent in your profession. It is an ongoing process and continues throughout a professional’s career. And it is NOT your just your company’s responsibility to help you grow. Wonderful if they are there to support you, but don’t wait for them to be the only way to develop professionally.
If you find yourself in an organization that has punted on their responsibility to train and develop future leaders, then my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? I heard something recently that doing nothing in this incredible time of innovation is like actually taking steps backwards, there is no time to sit still and let things “pass you by.”
Will you simply skate by, sliding back into your chair to become one of the nearly 70% of Americans who are disengaged at work? Good luck to you because you most likely will stop reading the blog post here.
But if you are still reading, it means you aren’t willing to just accept whether or not your employer invests in you…you are willing to invest in yourself. Go you!
What constitutes professional development? When people use the term “professional development,” they usually mean a formal process such as a conference, seminar, or workshop; collaborative learning among members of a work team; or a course at a college or university. However, professional development can also occur in informal contexts such as discussions among work colleagues, independent reading and research, observations of a colleague’s work, or other learning from a peer.
No matter the kind of Professional Development opportunities you create for yourself, I believe there needs to be four critical components to a successful Professional Development Plan. Without them, you just have a wish, not a plan.
4 Critical Components of an Effective Professional Development Plan:
Your Why (Motivation)
Why do you want to grow and expand professionally? And the answer shouldn’t just be to “go higher in a company’s ladder” or to “earn more money” – sure that are great goals, but they aren’t “powerful” enough to be sustainable. Are you a natural learner and miss learning? Good reason to develop a Professional Development plan. You’ll enjoy it, and hence, actually stick to it. Or perhaps you want to be known as a thought leader in your organization and that acknowledgement is a powerful motivator for you. Know your “why” and build the plan from there.
There is an established standard of success to describe what an individual who is successful looks like. There is a means of assessing where the individual is against this standard and continual assessment of progress that has been made. What are the standards against which you assess performance and what measures will you use to assess the individual against these standards? Or said another way, when you create your Professional Development plan, how can you assess your success?
It must be something that stretches people, pushes you out of your comfort zone, and requires you to think and act differently. Stretch those growth muscles and ask yourself, “what would be fun to try, but also something that I need to put effort into?”
We tend to think only of monetary support, but what are the environmental support mechanisms are just as important. Who will provide guidance, feedback, and assistance as you try out new skills, or takes on responsibilities that are beyond the scope of what you know?
Not sure where to start in terms of your Professional Development plan or how to assess its success? Reach out to one of our Professional Development Coaches and let’s explore with you what that might look like! Call us for a complimentary exploratory session to help you get started!