What is Professional Development?
Professional development refers to the process of continuous learning and acquiring knowledge, skills and experiences that are relevant to your career. It is an ongoing effort to enhance your professional competence and keep up to date with latest trends, technologies and best practices.
It can take many different forms; formal training programmes, workshops, coaching, and mentoring, to name a few. The aim is to build on your existing skills and knowledge, whilst acquiring new ones to remain competitive.
Benefits of Professional Development
Whether you’re earning a qualification, certification or attending a workshop or conference to stay updated on current trends within your field, continual learning will always be critical for you and your organisation. For example, industry newbies will benefit from exposure to new concepts, ideas and perspectives while gaining expertise, often leading to increased motivation, confidence and credibility with in the space, and ultimately enhance your job performance. Professional development is also important for personal growth and fulfilment – it can help you to achieve career goals and increased earning potential. It can also help you find more purpose and meaning in your work, resulting in greater job satisfaction and happiness.
Employers can also reap the rewards of educating their employees. Investing in your employees professional development leads to increased employee engagement, and job satisfaction, resulting in higher employee loyalty, and thus retention rates. Employers that offer professional development also tend to attract more sought after candidates. Professional development promotes employee growth within organisations, allowing you, as a company, to scale successfully and remain competitive.
Barriers to Professional Development
We all know professional development is not easy to prioritise, and we always find reasons to either put it off until the last minute or just not invest in it at all. But, good professional development comes from pre-empting those challenges you could face, and being prepared for them, so that you can overcome them.
We put out a LinkedIn survey to understand what the main barrier is for people when it comes to professional development, and 58% of you said ‘time’ was your main constraint – we are going to explore why ‘time’ doesn’t need to be a barrier.
Strategies for Overcoming ‘Time’ as a Barrier to Professional Development
We all know lack of time at one point or another, with the go to solution to be to cram as much as possible – creating an unnecessary stressful environment for yourself. This doesn’t need to be the case. Adopting time management techniques can help you to organise your time, and essentially project manage. Taking an hour to plan out how you are going to complete your training programme will optimise your time and save a lot of stress and worry that comes with cramming everything in in the last few days.
There are so many time management techniques you can use, BMS Progress recommend; Eating your Frog, Eisenhower Matrix, Pomodoro Technique, and Time Blocking – remember to pick one that best suits how you learn, whether it’s bitesize chunks or longer, more structured ways, working out what time you can regularly devote means you’re more likely to stick to it.
In hand with time management, comes planning. When thinking about completing a training programme, or when you know you have a more chunkier piece of work with a deadline coming up, plan ahead. Put deadlines in your diaries and work towards them, this will allow you to factor in everything else around it, ensuring you don’t fall behind on projects and are not distracted during the training. Ensuring structure in your learning by scheduling time and pre-planning helps you to be more disciplined.
Talk to your manager. Having clear and open communication with your line manager on projects, goals and time scales can help to manage expectations and give a level of understanding for both parties on capacity - this will better help you to fit the needs of your training around your day-to-day.
Give yourself clear directions – without this, motivation will keep declining over time. Finding a course that is enjoyable and sparks your interest is a good place to start, then begin looking for a course that can address a weakness. There are so many opportunities to unlock when investing in your professional development, rather than looking at it as a mission, break it down in to smaller chunks.
At the end of the day, professional development is an investment in you, and why wouldn’t you want to invest in you? Investing time in professional development to make you better in your role, bridges the gap from where you are now to where you want to be.
Remember, break it down. Identify the barrier(s) –be it time or anything else you may struggle with when engaging with professional development - evaluate them, and implement strategies to overcome them. This is the first step to ensure your success. It is crucial for individuals seeking to advance in their careers, gain new skills and remain competitive in their field, to priorities professional development.
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