The Right Time for Professional Development

The Right Time for Professional Development

When is the right time for professional development? Is there even such a thing?

“We’re hiring a few new employees right now so let’s wait until they’re onboarded.”

“We’re swamped with work and can’t come up for air so let’s push it off until things calm down.”

Professional development helps solve both of those responses.

If it feels like we’re singling you out, we’re not; you’re not alone. But if it feels like we’re talking directly to you, we are…We’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 – so you can meet the needs of the next moment.

Why Development?

You’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 don’t…and they stay?

Supporting the growth and development of employees is critical to your organization’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 don’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 doesn’t happen overnight. Establishing a foundation for future team building and individual development begins with the first workshop or development initiative. It’s the first step to creating an environment in which employees own their professional growth and development, too. Making growth part of your team’s culture requires focus, commitment and leading by example.

How to put focus on development when it’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 you’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 doesn’t have to be a lofty full-day off-site retreat or a plug-and-play program that doesn’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. Don’t wait for the perfect plan, a complete team or a lull in work…take your next step toward fostering a culture of development now…1…2…go!