Creating a Professional Development Culture

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As 2019 comes to a close, the notion that we do not have enough time is top of everyone’s mind. This time of year, our attention is split between wrapping up year-end business needs, getting gifts for loved ones and making our houses feel like homes with holiday decorations. As much as I love the holidays, I find myself thinking about gifts that cannot be purchased, such as developing a stronger professional self.

There is no perfect time to squeeze professional development into a demanding schedule, but with some guidance, and a little inspiration, you may remember why you choose to do what you do (for 40 or more hours a week) in the first place.

Today’s workplaces are powered by employees with ever-changing, innovative minds. They are the ones who are constantly looking for new ways to work more efficiently, improve outcomes and serve their key audiences. Their fuel is professional development learning opportunities. And when individuals have the opportunity to share what they have learned with the team, this curious, forward-thinking mentality spreads through the workplace culture.

Building strong workplace cultures is rooted in organizational trust. This trust is developed by firmly outlined expectations, open communication and feedback. If individuals do not trust their employer, it is unlikely they will seek out opportunities to sharpen their skills. The professional investment relationship between a company and an employee is a two-way street.

The importance of goal-setting and development of individual potential needs to be reinforced by leaders and managers, but it is also the individual employee’s responsibility. You are the only one who can further your learning goals. You are the only one who can demonstrate your value to an organization. Plan to have a conversation with your manager about your personal ambitions, and ask if he or she knows of avenues for learning opportunities you may not know about.

Talking about investing in yourself is not always easy, so start by outlining some things you would like to accomplish at work, and then talk to your manager. He or she can direct you to resources to that will not only help you excel in your current role, but also advance your career

An appropriate time to bring up professional development opportunities can be in in a formal setting such as performance reviews, or a more casual touch-base over coffee. With a strong foundation of trust, managers and team members can have candid conversations about overall team goals as well as personal goals.

“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” -Richard Branson

Sarah C. Purcell, SHRM Specialist, Social Media Engagement