In my more than 30 years in business, I have experienced many remarkable things. I’ve been a part of start-up companies that are just getting their footing in their market channel. That is an exciting time! Attacking business opportunities with an entrepreneurial spirit creates an energy that is truly infectious. I have participated actively with companies that had explosive growth in a relatively short period of time, devouring market share at incredible speeds. And, I’ve had the chance to be a part of a team that enjoyed a more steady and stable business model that was tried and true in a more dependable and conservative approach – just as successful as the others but at a much different pace. Conversely, I have also had the unfortunate experience of watching a more tenured company slide into bankruptcy, adversely impacting the lives of those who had worked so very hard to ensure its expansion and success over a long period of time. All very different experiences, yet powerful in each of their own way.
In each of these business examples, I saw owners and executives take painstaking care of all kinds of assets; real estate, equipment, inventory, raw materials, etc., and more importantly, money. What I did not see with any level of consistency, is the importance and need to take care of their human assets, aka: their people. And, I’m not talking just about that care in terms of a larger salary. Specifically, I’m talking about investing in their Professional Development.
As we know, most if not all companies enter a new year with a list of well-contemplated and considered business goals, which are crucial for the plan for success in the near future. They usually include some sort of metric or formula to determine how each will be measured towards pass/fail. Those goals generally find their way cascading down to each individual team member in some format that is usually within their ability to achieve or not. That all makes good business sense and typically ensures the larger team is all working towards the same desired destination at years’ end. However, it always surprised me at the frequency of times that rarely did I see the inclusion of any professional or personal development goals or activities included in that list of annual expectations for their team members. I find that to be very short sided. If your team is more proficient at what they do, are provided an opportunity to enhance or sharpen a skill needed for optimal performance in their role and feel invested in by their company for their continued success, there is no question their results will be improved in a dramatic way. Oh, and chances are very good that they will stay committed to their companies and stay for a much longer period of time.
Making this an important part of the development of your team is not a difficult task. It is something that requires a disciplined approach of what should be considered, and a budget created to provide the funds needed to support it. Investing in the ongoing professional development and continuing education for each one is crucial for several compelling reasons:
Guaranteed Skill Enhancement: Ongoing professional development enables team members to enhance and update their skills, ensuring they remain relevant and competitive in their roles.
More Adaptive to Change: In today's rapidly changing business landscape, continuous skill development equips team members with the tools to adapt to new technologies, industry trends, and market dynamics.
Fosters Innovation and Creativity: Professional development fosters innovation by exposing your employees to new ideas, perspectives, and approaches that can be applied to their roles and teams.
Provides a Confidence Boost: Gaining new knowledge and skills through ongoing education boosts the team’s confidence, empowering them to tackle challenges and take on greater responsibilities.
Champions Leadership Excellence: Ongoing development helps the team refine their leadership skills, enabling them to inspire and guide their teams effectively. It can also encourage those who aspire to lead find their ‘wings’ to prepare them for that time.
Expands the Professional Network: Participating in workshops, conferences, and training programs allows your team to expand their professional network, leading to potential collaborations and partnerships with other companies and business channels.
Supports Career Advancement: Continuing education positions team members for future career advancement by demonstrating their commitment to growth and development, and even more importantly, YOUR commitment to THEM!
Provides Mentorship Opportunities: Engagement in professional development activities can lead to mentorship opportunities, where experienced professionals share their insights and experiences. That relationship offers significant assistance when the path forward isn’t as clear and just the best benefit for ongoing personal growth.
Opportunities for Thought Leadership: By staying informed about industry trends and best practices, team members can establish themselves as thought leaders in their field and within the company, and can speak more clearly to opportunities and other cultural news dominators. Great ideas for new ways to move forward come from such collaboration. .
Provides Risk Mitigation: Developing a broader skill set and understanding of various aspects of business and balancing risk versus reward can help team members identify and manage potential threats or weaknesses effectively.
Fuels Employee Engagement: Companies and Leaders who invest in the development of their teams set a terrific example for everyone by encouraging and actively supporting a culture of continuous learning and growth.
Future-Proofs Careers: As industries, economies and requirements of positions evolve, continuous education ensures that your team members are equipped to navigate shifts in their roles, responsibilities and reporting structure.
Encourages Cross-Functional Collaboration: Learning experiences and content that span different areas of businesses and services will enable team members the skill set and confidence to collaborate more effectively with colleagues from various departments.
Provides a Lifelong-Learning Mindset: Demonstrating a commitment to lifelong learning for everyone in the company sends a powerful message about the importance of growth and development to other employees on behalf of the leadership. That is a gamechanger!
Incredible Organizational Impact: The knowledge and insights gained from ongoing professional development can be applied to drive positive changes and innovations within the organization.
Investing in the ongoing professional development and continuing education of your entire team not only benefits them individually but also contributes to the overall success of the organization. It empowers each one to excel in their roles, drive innovation, and positively influence their teams and workplaces for years to come.
Sounds like a terrific investment to me – how about you?