By / December 30, 2016
Life is a journey of learning. You start out school around age four and it never seems to end. But what happens after graduation? Has learning reached its peak?
Learning simply does not just end once you have finally gotten that long awaited college degree. Learning extends into your career, but is often called professional development. Professional development refers to the many types of educational experiences related to an individual’s work. As a very important part of any career, professional development should not be pushed to the side.
As an employee, staying on top of your game should be of utmost importance to you. There are assessments constantly being made about employees that affect decisions every day. Judgements are made on capabilities and compared to their peers to see who gets the prized promotion. The competitions never end, so in order to protect employability, employees need to take charge of their own personal development - whether they think someone is watching or not. Some organizations provide learning opportunities when they see direct benefit to the company, but otherwise employees are on their own in order to enhance their learning.
The best area to begin improving on is our weaknesses, even though no one really wants to acknowledge those right off the bat. By doing so, you allow yourself to enhance performance. For areas to improve performance, look at past performance reviews, instead, try talking to colleagues, managers, or the HR department for advice on areas of improvement. Once you know what needs improvement, employees can attend a course or workshop, network for mentors, or shadow someone for the area that needs work. Doing this will allow you to concentrate on one area while putting yourself ahead of others.
Some jobs require employees to continuously update their work because their expertise changes over time. In order to retain status and hold credibility, employees need to keep updated by reading professional journals, attending industry events or workshops, or researching on your own. There are many ways to keep updated on your profession in order to have better professional development and it’s a safe bet to say your coworkers (whether they admit it or not) have been keeping tabs on the industry, too.
Sometimes professional development isn’t only on the shoulders of the employees. Every company should make learning and development a priority there in order to keep an edge on the competition. Everything starts at the top, so in order to get your employees to sharpen their skills, the leaders of the company have to make it a top priority. Looking at the employees and deciding what they need to sharpen their skills is a great start to improving their professional development.
Bringing in experts in the field to talk about extra things they can do to be better is a good start. Giving employees content that they can look over and start implementing on a day to day basis is another great way to continue developing professional skills for your employees. Most of all, leaders of the company need to invest in marketing whatever professional development program they start to enforce. Display success stories of those that work on the development or highlight new classes at company-wide meetings. A little extra push from the leaders will help the employees be more motivated to be better.
There are so many benefits to professional development that it would be silly for an employee not to take advantage of any program right in front of them. Professional development allows employees to be more aware of the trends and directions in technology and society. Staying up to date with society is half the battle.
As an employee, maintaining a high level professional development leads to a fulfilling and rewarding career. Being on top of industry trends and being knowledgeable of what’s going on as a whole requires a little extra work, but it goes a long way.
All in all, professional development comes down to a life of learning. Constantly staying up to date and informed of your area of expertise allows you to stay ahead of other people who would love to have a job. Competition is tough, so doing something that puts you ahead of others is very enticing to an employer, especially when it will make them look good. As an employer, continually perfecting professional development will increase accountability, expose new and exciting opportunities, and most importantly help out the organization.