The Right Time for Professional Development
When is the right time for professional development? Is there even such a thing?
â€śWeâ€™re hiring a few new employees right now so letâ€™s wait until theyâ€™re onboarded.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re swamped with work and canâ€™t come up for air so letâ€™s push it off until things calm down.â€ť
Professional development helps solve both of those responses.
If it feels like weâ€™re singling you out, weâ€™re not; youâ€™re not alone. But if it feels like weâ€™re talking directly to you, we areâ€¦Weâ€™ve noticed a trend, and we want to redirect it: Business leaders are waiting for the right time to do leadership development.
What are you waiting for?
The perfect moment for development is now â€“ so you can meet the needs of the next moment.
Youâ€™ve likely heard this quote or seen some form of it posted on LinkedIn:
Leader: What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?
Other Leader: What happens if we donâ€™tâ€¦and they stay?
Supporting the growth and development of employees is critical to your organizationâ€™s success. Tomorrow requires new knowledge and creative solutions. Boosting development for one employee has a ripple effect in the organization as you foster a learning environment that celebrates growth and positions talent for future business needs.
It reminds me of something a former leader said to incoming new hires during every orientation: We hope you stay here for a long time, but if you donâ€™t, we want you to leave here having improved your personal and professional portfolio.
Creating a Culture of Development
Your goal as a people leader is to create a culture that promotes and prioritizes development for both the individual and team, but as you already know, this doesnâ€™t happen overnight. Establishing a foundation for future team building and individual development begins with the first workshop or development initiative. Itâ€™s the first step to creating an environment in which employees own their professional growth and development, too. Making growth part of your teamâ€™s culture requires focus, commitment and leading by example.
How to put focus on development when itâ€™s not the right time
For your team:
- Use already scheduled time, such as a recurring team meeting. Make a meeting or event dual-purpose.
- Ask for an e-mail update or brief written summary from team members to make more time for discussion and development in an upcoming meeting.
- Make development opportunities bite-size and try going virtual to avoid logistics of set-up and travel.
- Model your own personal development by sharing highlights from a recent industry event, sending relevant information you learned at a roundtable or noting any books or articles youâ€™ve read.
For individual team members:
- Share opportunities you see for growth and development: Is there an upcoming industry event they could attend? Could they register to participate in a relevant course at a local university? Could they represent your team on a committee or task force? Is there a networking group in your area? Could you introduce them to someone who might be a good mentor?
- Recognize your team members when they take initiative to develop skills and have them present their learnings to the team.
- Reward team members who go above and beyond to learn and grow.
- Support them through allocating time or team budget for individual development.
Your Next Step Toward a Culture of Development
Professional development for your team doesnâ€™t have to be a lofty full-day off-site retreat or a plug-and-play program that doesnâ€™t fit your style. It can be a mix of your own ideas plus external expert strategy and facilitation. It can start simple and should be something you can continue to build upon. Donâ€™t wait for the perfect plan, a complete team or a lull in workâ€¦take your next step toward fostering a culture of development nowâ€¦1â€¦2â€¦go!