A return on investment mindset: Owning your professional development in 2022
There are many reasons why organisations should invest in the professional development of employees, including measurable benefits like new skills, knowledge, and staying up to date with industry and tech trends.
And, of course, we all know that happier, engaged staff members stay longer and are more productive. Did you know that LinkedIn's 2018 Workplace Learning Report found that 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their career? Quite a compelling statistic.
The sad news is that not all workplaces budget for professional development.
I think it's useful to think of PD as an investment, for both you and your employer.
Applying a 'return on investment' mindset to planning your professional development is important because it focuses your thinking on the potential return not only for just your employer, but also in terms of your own career benefits.
In 2022 and beyond, I believe we need to start to reframe our thinking. We need to be more agile than ever in our approach to our work, but also in how we approach our professional development.
Ask yourself the following 5 questions when planning your professional development for the upcoming year:
- What are the learning outcomes from this activity?
- How would this be relevant to my current and future self?
- How can I embed my new knowledge and skills in what I do?
- How will others (for example - clients, colleagues) benefit from my learning? and
- What are the longer term benefits?
When considering what kind of CPD to engage in, there is a beautiful buffet of choices these days available to professionals who are willing to think creatively and critically about their roles and career aspirations. There are a mixture of formal and informal opportunities to consider.
Formal professional development includes:
- Full and part-time study
- Accredited and non-accredited courses, workshops, or online learning
- Conferences and seminars
- Engaging in research and writing opportunities
- Mentoring, which can include a 'learning contract'.
- Completion of online learning
As we know, there are many 'free' online courses available offered through universities and training providers. These can take time, however, to find the right resource for you.
Informal professional development:
This refers to other activities associated with your work which contribute to your development as a professional. Cerasoli et al. (2018, p. 203) indicate that "over the past two decades, research has shown a growing consensus that 70% to 90% of organizational learning occurs not through formal training but informally and in an ongoing manner." If such significant learning happens in this way, how can leverage or take advantage of it? Some examples include:
- Regular discussions with colleagues.
- Sharing knowledge and information at meetings.
- Participation in work committees.
- Internet research
- Book clubs
- Active involvement in a professional association
- Online discussion groups
- Articles and association magazines
- YouTube videos
- Listening to podcasts
- Participation in a professional community of which you are a member - like, The Adult Learning Hub, for educators of adults, for example.
Remember: Taking control of your professional development starts with YOU. Make the best decision that suits your needs, preferences and the career you'd like to shape for yourself.
So, how can you get in the driver seat and OWN your development in 2022?
- Firstly, take a moment with yourself and make a list of your current strengths. Ask yourself what you want to enhance in the upcoming year.
- Secondly, think about what makes you feel 'uncomfortable.' I had a member of The Adult Learning Hub say the other day that each year she considers 3 things that cause her to be uncomfortable when facilitating learning experiences for adults. She then chooses 1 to focus on for the year and looks at resources for how she can improve or help make that particular thing easier.
- Next, consider listening to and acting on feedback from your manager and from colleagues.
- You also want to dedicate time each month to researching professional development opportunities and assessing their relevance to your needs.
- Make point of staying up to date with industry developments or areas of specialization that you might want to enhance in order to stay on top of trends.
- Finally, once you have found a few options that can support your professional development, speak with your employer to see how they can support you - either financially, or through other resources like study breaks or dedicating time to activities that are important to you.