High Impact Leadership and the Power of Professional Development Planning
If you struggle with employee engagement issues, want to improve accountability and shift performance on your team, it might be time to consider implementing professional development plans for your people.
As a Leadership and Career Coach, I spend a lot of my time helping people create plans for their professional growth. And while there is no one specific way to create a Professional Development Plan for yourself or your Team Members, there are some essential elements that you can adopt that will make the entire process easier and much more impactful for everyone.
What is a Professional Development Plan?
At the core of it, a Professional Development Plan documents the goals, required skills needed and business objectives targeted to support continuous improvement and career development. It’s about personal and professional growth, which we all strive for.
High performing leaders integrate Professional Development Plans into their team development initiatives as a powerful way to prevent their people from growing stagnant and bored in their jobs. And although this is a challenge for even the best business owners and team leaders, I have learned a few strategies that will help make the entire process easier. Let’s break it down.
Essential elements of a Professional Development Plan
- In my experience, the development of a winning plan all begins with a good coach and an eager participant. Make sure you have a genuine interest in coaching and developing your people, and that you don’t want their success more than they do – this never works. Assess where the team member is now and where they need to go: What are the skills and talents that the individual has and which are the skills that need to be worked on? Establishing a baseline is where you can begin.
- The professional goals of the individual need to match the needs of the business. “What does the business need?” is my favorite question to ask my clients in any situation, and it’s applicable more here than anywhere I can think of when it comes to developing people. Identifying the career goals of the individual and understanding why these goals are important to them will allow you both to put purpose to the planning process, and this is where engagement sparks.
- Get in the trenches and create the plan with your team member. Your involvement in the design and planning for their professional development activities not only brings collaboration to the table, it brings accountability for both of you. Decide how the goals will be accomplished and create a timeline for hitting specific targets to be achieved. This puts structure and intention to the entire process. Get your hands on a good Professional Development Plan template and write it all down.
- Stay actively involved and participate when you are able in your team member’s development plan. Whether you jointly attend trainings, schedule regular check-in sessions to review and measure progress, or bring in other resources (such as a professional coach, mentor or teacher). What makes the development process work is ongoing engagement and feedback. Consider the plan as a living, breathing document that will be discussed often and celebrated as milestones are attained.
- Update and create new plans continuously. The concepts of “lifelong learning” and “a culture of growth” is all talk unless you are creating Professional Development Plans regularly, at least once per year. Evaluate the plan, learn from your experiences, and refine consistently based on what your business needs.
Developing and inspiring people to new levels of success can be a constant challenge for business owners and team leaders. By setting aside time to discuss their career goals, their dreams for the future and their professional interests, demonstrates that you care about them and gives purpose to the work. Because we all want to find purpose and joy in our career and know that we are constantly growing as human beings, creating a Professional Development Plan can make a big impact on someone’s life. And to me, this is one of the greatest privileges of being a leader.
This is the 4th of six in a series of Leadership Lessons that I will be posting over the next few weeks…
Whether you are looking for coaching or you would like help with a team event…
call me direct at (425) 241-4855.